Huge Defense Job Cuts Could Come to Rhode Island - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Huge Defense Job Cuts Could Come to Rhode Island

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis 

mcurtis@abc6.com 

Employees leaving the Naval Station Newport may be wondering if their jobs are leaving too.

Documents obtained by ABC6 News confirm that the federal budget process - known as sequestration - could lead to the loss of over 44–hundred defense related jobs in Rhode Island.

Still, state officials have not been told the cuts are a done deal yet.

State Rep. Peter Martin (D-RI) said, "I mean what you do when you don't have a project, is you lay people off on a furlough. So now you have people who don't know if you're going to have family income. And so the real disaster here is there's uncertainly."

ABC6 has learned that some defense employees could be furloughed up to 22 weeks, beginning April 1st.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "But this isn't just about the military employees. Aquidneck Island is dotted with dozens of businesses large and small that depend on the military incomes for their livelihoods."

Burgers are a popular item for base employees.

And they serve up lots of them at Bishop's Diner, right outside the main gate.

Restaurant employees are concerned.

Paula Allen, a restaurant worker said, "I think it would affect it immensely. We count a lot on the base people coming here to this diner. They have for years! I mean she's been here since 1967."

One estimate puts the economic loss to Rhode Island at $50 million dollars a year.

Local leaders want Congress and the White House to act.

State Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-RI) said, "I think I'm even more concerned about the types of jobs we might be losing in this state. You know these are the engineers, the scientists, the innovators, that we are supposed to be building our knowledge economy on."

For now, thousands of Rhode Islanders will simply have to wait...and worry. In Newport, I'm ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis.

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