by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
The Rhode Island military community is bracing for a budget D–Day.
On Friday, automatic federal spending cuts go into effect that target the defense industry more than any other.
While some employees could lose their jobs, most will face unpaid furloughs, perhaps up to 20 percent of the year.
Molly Donohue Magee, Executive Director of SENEDIA (Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance), said, "It's not a budget plan. It's arbitrary across the board cuts that could be damaging as disruptive. If we as business leaders managed out business that way, we'd be out of business. "
Between military jobs, and defense related contractors, it's estimated that Rhode Island has 12 thousand employees directly linked to national defense.
Magee said, "The have an economic impact on Rhode Island of $1.75 billion dollars."
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter said, "But it's not just the defense employees and the contractors. There are dozens and dozens of small businesses up and down Aquidneck Island that depend on that military income for their livelihoods."
At Jim's Pizza and Deli in Middletown, they were busy serving lunch.
Many of the customers that spend money here work in defense related jobs.
Aquidneck Island resident Tom Flynn said, "Well with a 20 percent cut to the employees and eventually the contractors being laid off, it's going to have a ripple effect. It's going to take funding away from little mom and pop places like this like Jim's Deli."
Aside from the impact on Aquidneck Island there are also concerns there could be layoffs at Electric Boat at Quonset Point in North Kingstown.