If sequestration becomes a reality, Pennsylvania could see an estimated $1.1 billion economic loss and 10,414 lost jobs, including a $309 million budget hit at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, the region's largest employer, according to one recent analysis circulated by the U.S. Army.
The depot, located off Route 611 in Monroe County, is Northeastern Pennsylvania's largest employer with more than 5,000 workers. About a quarter of those live in Luzerne County, federal records show.
U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, agree the sequester-mandated cuts need to be averted, but the two disagree on how to accomplish that goal.
Cartwright said he's working closely with the Tobyhanna administration. If this silly sequestration idea goes through, it could have a dramatic effect on Tobyhanna, he said. I plan on raising the noise level on what a ridiculous idea this is.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, said the Army report further emphasizes the damaging impacts that the sequester-mandated cuts could have on Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna plays a critical role in our nation's defense and employs about 5,800 people in the region, Casey said. Republicans and Democrats should come together to avoid the sequester and cut spending in a responsible way.
Cartwright said he is confident Congress will replace the sequester plan with something different. When you talk about military cuts, you raise concerns on both sides of the aisle, he said.
Barletta said if nothing is resolved by the March 1 deadline, the sequester-related action will cut $85.3 billion in fiscal year 2013. He said the $85.3 billion reduction will be evenly split between defense and non-defense accounts.
House Resolution 6684 – the Spending Reduction Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Eric Cantor – would cancel the sequester on all defense and non-defense discretionary spending for fiscal year 2013, Barletta said.
The bill reprioritizes spending cuts by replacing the $96.8 billion sequester with a combination of commonsense mandatory and discretionary savings, Barletta said. Without additional congressional intervention, these cuts would occur automatically.
The Spending Reduction Act achieves hundreds of billions of dollars of net deficit reduction by targeting duplicative, wasteful government spending, Barletta said.
According to a report issued by the U.S. Army, several budget-reducing measures already are being taken, including:
• Reducing the contracted workforce.
• Terminating temporary employees and not extending term employees.
• Implementing a hiring freeze.
• Diverting all facilities restoration and modernization funds.
• Canceling third and fourth quarter depot maintenance inductions.
• Reducing base operations support levels.
• Canceling collective and individual training.
Depot is the largest employer in Northeastern Pennsylvania
• Employment: 5,300; 1,323 from Luzerne County
• Other counties: Lackawanna, 1,878; Monroe, 702; Wayne, 470; Carbon, 188; Northampton, 102; Pike, 84; Lehigh, 80; Wyoming, 74; Susquehanna, 47; Schuylkill, 43; other, 268.
• Average salary: $57,092.
Annual economic impact:
• $4.4 billion; personnel pay $13 million in state and local taxes.