Report: Federal budget cuts affect counties with greater military presence

A recent report from the Andrew Young School of Policy at Georgia State reveals that continued federal budget cuts will have a more pronounced impact on the military communities of Georgia, particularly in Savannah and Columbus, Ga.

The report shows that higher ratios of federal spending in certain regions can be attributed to the size of military spending in that area. And because Savannah and Columbus are home to many active members of the military due to the presence of local military bases, military wages make up a majority of the federal funds allocated to these cities.

The $92.4 billion federal budget of 2010 made up 22 percent of Georgia’s gross state product, according to Peter Bluestone, a senior research assistant in the Fiscal Research Center and author of the report, “Geographic Dispersion of Federal Funds in Georgia and Its Major Urban Regions.” Savannah and Columbus had ratios of 51 and 44 percent in federal spending to gross regional product compared to Atlanta’s 14 percent.

“Federal spending was not uniformly distributed across the state geographically or in terms of population in 2010,” Bluestone said in a news release. “How the federal government decides to trim the budget could have disparate impacts across Georgia.”

An estimated 10 percent cut in defense discretionary programs are expected to be made by 2014, according the Budget Control Act. This would represent 2.2 percent of Georgia’s gross state product.

If the federal government continues to make cuts in the department of defense and carries out the plan to reduce funding by 50 percent, which would include active military salaries, the value of the proposed cuts would be 7.8 percent and 6.4 percent in gross regional product for Savannah and Columbus, compared to 1.3 percent in Atlanta.

“We find that Savannah and Columbus are the most vulnerable regions to funding problems in this area, as well as to long-term potential federal cuts,” Bluestone said.