By SEAN DELANEY
Citing the potential loss of more than 650 jobs, Sterling Heights officials on May 1 adopted a resolution in opposition to proposed reductions in the fiscal 2013 budget for the United States Air Force that would result in the elimination of the A-10 squadron based at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County.
“The resolution … is not addressing whether or not federal budget cuts should be made or need to be made, but rather it seeks to impress upon decision-makers that alternatives that may be more equitable and efficient should be considered to achieve those reductions,” said Economic Development Manager Kasey Green.
According to Green, the fiscal year federal budget for 2013 includes $330 million in cuts to the Air National Guard that will result in the elimination of the Selfridge Air National Guard Base’s A-10 Squadron – a move that some officials claim will result in the loss of more than 650 jobs, which is one-third of the manpower at the base.
“This a major threat to the viability of Selfridge, which is a key regional defense asset,” Green said.
The proposed cuts are being opposed by a variety of federal, state and local leaders, including Gov. Rick Snyder, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and United States Congresswoman Candice Miller.
“The opposition to these cuts in Michigan reflects a bi-partisan, regional and statewide effort to retain the remaining assets in our state in defense,” Green said.
Resolutions opposing the cuts have already been passed by the State House of Representatives, Macomb County Board of Commissioners, Oakland County Board of Commissioners, SEMCOG, Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Macomb County Chamber of Commerce and several neighboring communities.
“The opposition efforts are focused on key factors, the first of which is efficiency,” Green said, noting that an Air National Guard base operates at a cost of approximately $5 million, one-tenth the cost of an active-duty base, which costs approximately $50 million per year.
“The Air National Guard has also demonstrated a lower cost per airman, and a far lower retirement cost per retiree in comparison with other air force personnel — all of which would indicate that our local national guard reflects a highly efficient model for our forces,” Green said. “Yet the proposed cuts would have the Air National Guard absorbing more than half the budget reductions, though they only comprise one-fifth of the total uniformed members of the air force.”
In addition, Michigan currently ranks 47th out of 50 in per capita guard and reserve personnel numbers, and is ranked 50th out of all 50 states in per capita department of defense employees. In terms of the level of total department of defense dollars that are spend per capita, Michigan ranks in the bottom 10, Green said.
“These cuts would further reduce defense investments and represent a $300 million negative impact to the region,” she said. “There would seem to be many other areas in which cuts can be identified without imposing such large, negative impacts on a state with disproportionately less to lose.”
According to Green, Michigan has already sustained the loss of several active duty military installations. The resolution adopted by the Sterling Heights City Council seeks to prevent the loss of another of the state’s key assets supporting the growth of the defense industry — the Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
“United efforts with our neighbors are important in defending the remaining assets in Michigan so we continue to be a growing hub for the defense industry,” Green said. “Defense assets in southeast Michigan are critical to our defense corridor that represents such a significant economic and employment base for our community. Cuts to any and all assets in Michigan represent a blow to the defense presence here, and weaken key area assets that attract and promote the defense industry in our community.”
Adoption of the resolution opposing the cuts was unanimous