Southeastern Connecticut has been holding its breath waiting for the list of base closures to be released. It won't be much longer: the report is due out sometime this week, probably Friday (the 13th--how appropriate). While we wait, here's the good and the bad news:
The good news is that the cuts may not be as deep as feared.
"Without final figures, I would say the percent will be less than half of the 20 to 25 percent that has been characterized previously," [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld said in a conference call Thursday with newspaper editorial writers across the country, according to two writers who were on the call. (AP)
Why the change? Hard lobbying by cities and states has apparently been a factor, as has the argument that the bases are needed for homeland security.
The bad news is that if Groton goes, a huge hole will be ripped in the economy. We already knew that, of course, but now we know just how bad it will be:
If the Naval Submarine Base in Groton is shut down, the state economy would lose as much as $3.3 billion a year and as many as 31,500 jobs, according to a state report released Wednesday. (Hamilton)
This isn't just a New London County problem. The state stands to lose a lot of revenue, and the huge job losses will mean an increase in the demand for state services there, putting a strain on services everywhere else. That's just for starters, too. It could be a disaster.
Rep. Rob Simmons (R-2), aware of how closely his political future is tied to the base (look at the 2nd district map--see how support for Simmons drifted down towards the southeast in 2004? That's the military vote, without which he can't win), has been working furiously to protect it. His latest project is trying to secure funds for a Homeland Security post at the base (bases with "mixed use" are reportedly looked upon more favorably). We'll know his fate after this week, too.
Keep an eye on Second District Congressional Watch for more details.
"Rumsfeld Sees Fewer Base Closings." Associated Press 6 May, 2005.
Hamilton, Robert A. "New Report Raises Stakes For Potential Base Closing." New London Day 5 May 2005. (registration required)