McDonnell: Sequester Could Force Virginia Into Recession
Governor sends letter to president, congressional delegation.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell sent a letter Monday to President Barack Obama and the Old Dominion's congressional delegation calling for immediate action to prevent automatic spending cuts under sequestration.
The $1.2 trillion in cuts — meant to force Congress to compromise, which hasn't happened — are slated to go into effect March 1. That deadline has been pushed back several times as lawmakers have brokered Band-Aid solutions.
"The automatic sequestration reductions mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are already having a significant adverse effect on the Commonwealth," McDonnell stated. "When fully implemented, they could force Virginia and other states into a recession. Sequestration-mandated reductions will be implemented with no regard for relative national priorities. These reductions will have a potentially devastating impact in the Commonwealth, with the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions at the greatest risk."
In Northern Virginia and Fairfax County defense contractors have said the mere threat of sequestration is already having negative effects.
Businesses, for instance, already are not filling vacancies. Contracts are being renegotiated for shorter periods of time. Research and development spending is slowing down, as are major acquisitions. Wall Street is investing more with companies that don't do business with the government.
“Part of our frustration is that the business community is holding back on making investments or maybe filling vacant office space … because they’re not sure what’s going to happen with federal cuts,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova said. “It’s sort of like pulling the band-aid off slowly.”
Last week, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with seven of Virginia's 11 congressmen, sent a letter to Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to show bicameral, bipartisan support for averting the sequestration.
Citing a recent study by George Mason University, the letter states that nearly 10 percent of the 2.1 million jobs that would be cut under sequestration would come from Virginia.
Of those, 136,191 Virginia jobs would be lost due to defense cuts; another 71,380 jobs in this state would vanish thanks to non-defense cuts, the letter states. Virginia could also look forward to a $20.8 billion loss in gross state product.
"The consequences of a failure to avert sequestration will ripple through all parts of our state economy and could lead to a hollow military force and a government unable to adequately respond to the needs of its citizens," the congressmen's letter states.