TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Hours before a looming deadline for automatic federal budget cuts, the Pentagon sent a blunt warning to Florida Gov. Rick Scott that spells out the likely impact on his state.
Ashton Carter, a deputy secretary of defense, wrote to Scott and the governors of nine states likely to be hit hardest by defense-related cuts that are part of $85 billion in government-wide cuts that were to take effect at midnight Friday.
“We wanted to provide you with the information we currently have available about how these unfortunate budgetary adjustments impact us, and in turn what it means for our installations and contractors in Florida,” Carter wrote.
Scott, in Jacksonville on Friday night, told reporters that the cutbacks were “infuriating.”
“In Washington they are playing politics, they are playing politics with families lives and jobs in our state,” the Republican governor said.
Carter stated in his letter obtained by The Associated Press that up to 31,000 civilian employees who work for the Department of Defense could be furloughed up to 22 non-consecutive days over the next seven months. He said that the Pentagon has estimated the furloughs would result in a payroll reduction of $185 million to the Florida employees.
Carter, who said a complete inventory of the cutbacks was not yet available, also mentioned previously disclosed impacts, including a loss of $135 million to the Navy for aircraft depot maintenance in Jacksonville and $3.2 million for four demolition projects in Pensacola.
But the most recent letter pegs the estimated cuts to the Air Force bases in Florida at $37 million.
Carter stated that the department was still assessing the details and would provide a more complete list of the cutbacks later.
This is the second time in the last week that federal officials have tried to draw attention to the impact of the automatic budget cuts. Last Sunday the White House released lists for each state on the potential effects.
The letter from the Pentagon comes at the same time that Scott has been harshly critical of both Congress and President Barack Obama for failing to reach a deal to avoid the cuts.
He said Friday that neither the president nor members of Congress should get paid until they solve the problem.
“We’ve had to balance our budget in our state. We’ve had to watch how we spend money,” Scott during a public appearance in Orlando. “We’ve had to live within our means. And we didn’t do it with a meat cleaver; we did it with a scalpel. We watched what we could do agency by agency. The federal government needs to do the same thing.”
*Pictured above is Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.