DAYTON, Ohio — A congressman is warning that federal spending cuts could cost Ohio’s largest military base up to 6,000 military and civilian jobs by next year, with more to come after that.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said thousands more jobs at and around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton could be gone in the years ahead, with a potential regional economic hit of nearly $9 billion for southwest Ohio.
The Dayton Daily News reported that Turner spoke at a forum Tuesday at Sinclair Community College about the impacts of the federal cuts, or the sequester, triggered this year when Congress was unable to reach a budget compromise to reduce deficits.
“This is really the result of the negligence of the work not getting done in Washington,” Turner said. “With 6,000 jobs at risk, it is absolutely imperative that our community join together with one voice to ensure these job losses don’t happen.”
Regional economic leaders want Ohio’s congressional delegation and state leaders to support an effort to bring more attention to the looming impacts.
Turner said the jobs loss estimate comes from a House Armed Services Committee extrapolation of jobs and dollars the Air Force has said it would cut in the years ahead if nothing changes. The base has some 29,000 jobs.
Col. Cassie Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing commander, pointed to an overall Air Force estimate of up to 25,000 people and 550 aircraft it would need to cut in the next five years if the sequester continued.
“How that translates for all the different commands across the Air Force is yet to be seen, so I haven’t seen a number yet,” Barlow said.
She said the base is facing a growing maintenance backlog, lacking funds to address decaying and damaged infrastructure.
The base cuts are rippling out locally to hurt defense contractors and local businesses, local officials say.
Jeff Hoagland, who leads the Dayton Development Coalition, estimated some 2,000 base-related jobs have been cut already.
“I’ve always said if Wright-Patterson gets a cold, Greene County gets pneumonia,” said Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser. “Well, Wright-Patterson is getting more than a cold.”