One of the biggest losers in President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration could be San Diego's military community.
Service members are wondering if key San Diego military contracts will be on the list of cuts as the White House takes more than $3.5 billion dollars earmarked for military construction and uses it to fund a border wall. Contractors are wondering if they should even bid on at-risk projects in our region.
Experts say San Diego could feel the impact almost immediately. Mark Balmert, Executive Director at the San Diego Military Advisory Council, put into context what $3.5 billion out of the budget represents.
“The entire military construction budget for all of the Department of Defense in 2019 is about $12 billion, so a $3.5 billion hit to that would be significant, no matter how it was spread,” he said.
Not to mention, one in every five jobs in San Diego is tied to the military.
There are still a number of unknowns -- even the legalities of President Trump’s executive order are still being sorted out in court. But Balmert says there are three major projects that could be in jeopardy.
First of which is the coastal campus being built for the Navy SEALs near Silver Strand State Beach. There are about 12 contracts associated with the project and half have yet to be started.
At MCAS Miramar, new hangers are needed to house the F-35 jetss slated to come in the next few years, and Camp Pendleton is on the waitlist for a new water distribution system. All of these projects could potentially be delayed or scrapped due to Trump’s national emergency.
“There's plenty of people, military and otherwise, that understand what he's doing or trying to do,” Balmert said.
At the same time, he says these projects are important for these service members and the military wants to continue to be attractive to contractors.
“We want them to have military construction as part of their portfolio. We want local contractors working on our bases. We need the competition to keep the prices down, so uncertainty does not help them.”
Something else complicating things? Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was severely damaged by Hurricane Florence and its reconstruction price tag has been set at more than $3 billion. Balmert explained that project, too, could come from a military construction budget.