JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The U.S. Coast Guard is facing $155 million in cuts to its capital spending budget, according to federal documents.
The cuts, described in documents from U.S. Rep. John Mica's office, came as a shock to Mica of Florida.
"We were stunned - both Republicans and Democrats - that the administration would propose dramatic cuts in the Coast Guard which is our first line of national security and domestic defense and safety," said Mica in a phone conversation Friday.
Mica said the proposed federal budget for 2011 would:
- chop about 1,100 positions
- get rid of five helicopters, two of which would be from Florida
- reduce funds for port, waterway and coastal security by more than $100 million
At a National Press Club luncheon on Feb. 12, Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard said aging ships also will be taken offline.
"In the personnel changes for the 2011 budget, there was a reduction of over 1,000 military personnel. That is mostly related to the ships that are being laid up and taken offline ... but in addition to that, there are over 300 civilian positions being added on. So there is somewhat of a
conversion of some positions from military to civilian..."
One local organization that relies on the coastguard is JAXPORT.
Nancy Rubin, the spokesperson for JAXPORT, said the Coast Guard, "makes sure the cargo and ships coming into the port were appropriately checked out. They're part of the international effort to keep track of our borders..."
JAXPORT is protected by a team of national and local agencies, however, Rubin said it would not be appropriate for her to comment on the proposed Coast Guard cutbacks.
"I cannot discuss what impact the cutbacks would have," Rubin explained. "I don't have that information. Again, we count on them. They are a vital part of the process of keeping the port safe."
Mica said he plans to fight the cutbacks. "We're alerting our Senate colleagues. I can almost guarantee that these cuts will not stand."
First Coast News