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Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 11:56am

Defense Cuts Feared in Georgia

Pres. Obama will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday. There’s talk about whether federal lawmakers can make a deal to avoid military-related cuts as part of the sequestration. State lawmakers are concerned about cuts impacting thousands of Georgians employed in the defense industry.

The automatic cuts slated to take place in two weeks could lead to furloughs for many Georgians employed by military bases and contractors.

Lawmakers in Washington are working on a deal that could avert some of the cuts.

But barring that, Georgia legislators say the impact here will be severe.

Rep. Scott Holcomb is a former active duty military service member who was based at Fort Stewart. He says he thinks Pres. Obama will address plans to avoid the cuts. And he says there's no time to waste.

“I’m quite concerned about the long-term implications for Fort Stewart, for Fort Benning and other installations," he said in an interview. "There’s been a lot of talk that they may be reduced significantly so we need to think what it means for Georgia, for the surrounding communities and also what it means for our larger strategic defense plans.”

Gov. Nathan Deal says Georgia in particular has a lot at stake because of its large civilian military workforce.

“When you start having to cut or eliminate contracts with those who provide services and supplies to military installations, that begins to affect the uniform people at the installations but the civilians who are employed there,” he said.

Middle Georgia, alone, could face an immediate $83 million hit in payroll losses.