Sequestration. This single word has been the cause of much alarm and frustration for many communities with military installations, such as ours, since August 2011. It is a term that generally means seizure. In this case, though, it means additional cuts in the federal budget for the next 10 years. Sequestration is a complex issue, but the end result is simple — dramatic cuts in both civilian and military personnel budgets as well as a lack of modernization and readiness for the future years. This is cause for concern in regards to our soldiers, jobs, businesses and the future of our city.
With the proposed plan, sequestration will impose a $15-billion cut on the Army’s budget for the remaining months of fiscal year 2013. The cuts impact the Army and our nation, and the effects will trickle down to our city as well. If passed, the proposed budget cuts will cause the loss of jobs and federal funds in our area. Hinesville particularly will be hit hard with the loss of jobs and contracts on and off Fort Stewart, which would see a $56 million reduction.
To comply with the sequestration law, the Army is reducing its contracted workforce, terminating temporary employees, phasing out term employees, implementing a hiring freeze, diverting facility restorations and modernization, reducing base operations support levels and canceling collective and individual training. This will put a halt to our growth.
Can you imagine the loss of 20 percent of your income during the next 22 weeks? Can you imagine local businesses’ plummeting sales numbers due to an increase in unemployment after the job cuts? Can you imagine the impact on our residents who depend on social and federal government programs such as airport security and others? You may not have to imagine much longer because this could become our reality.
This is not just the city of Hinesville’s issue or the state of Georgia’s issue. This is a national issue that affects all of us. That’s why I urge you to exercise your right as a citizen and contact our political representatives at the national level to voice your concern. The most important part of our communication to Congress is to let them know that this is not just elected officials — it’s all the citizens of our communities. My hope is that the impact of our combined pressure will impress upon our federal elected officials the need for their support in stopping sequestration. Sequestration is not the right way to conduct our country’s political affairs.
Please make your voices heard in Washington. Let Congress know that this issue impacts you, your family, our community and communities like ours across the nation. Ask them to do away with sequestration by creating a balanced budget that will foster long-term economic growth. Ask them to prevent the implementation of a draconian budget sequestration that ignores the nation’s priorities. Please let them know that we need action on this issue now and not later. All parties will have to give in on some parts of the budget, and no party will get all that it wants, but the economic well-being of our country and our city is more important than the wishes of any party or administration. This uncertainty must end so our communities can move forward.
Thomas is mayor or Hinesville