According to an analysis by USA Today, the state stands to lose $161 million in reductions to its Army assets and 4,803 jobs.
Air Force estimates for Colorado suggest that it will lose 6,200 civilian jobs, $48.6 million in lost pay, $15 million in facility maintenance and restoration and $8.4 million in military construction projects.
All of that equals $233 million – much less than the $5 billion projected by the El Paso County budget officer Nicola Sapp that would affect the county alone.
“That’s 20 percent of our economy,” said Fred Crowley, senior instructor and associate director of Southern Colorado Economic Forum. “Losing a few thousand soldiers — I just can’t see that happening.”
The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance estimates that the six military bases in the state bring an estimated $7 billion in economic impact, including civilian jobs, wages and construction projects.
Sequestration – which is set to begin taking effect March 1 – means the military has to cut 13 percent from its programs before the end of the fiscal year in September. Overall, the military has to bear half of the $1.2 trillion in cuts scheduled for the next decade under the Budget Control Act of 2011.
That means cuts to every area in the military, civilian workers will be furloughed, contracts will be cut, projects and maintenance will be scaled back. But Crowley doesn’t think that $5 billion loss is likely, or anything close.
“They’d have to cut two-thirds of Fort Carson,” he said. “And that’s not going to happen. We have 2,700 soldiers coming here next month. The Army’s personnel report says we could lose 8,000 soldiers, but we stand to gain 4,000 too – depending on which scenario.”
Air Force assets are probably safe, he said. Colorado Springs is home to the Space Command and the Northern Command, at Schriever and Peterson Air Force Bases.
“Every indication is that that’s the way the military is moving, toward high-tech,” he said. “So I think those assets are safe.”
Fort Carson is probably safer than other military posts, he said, because the altitude makes it a perfect place to train for flying in the mountains comparable to those in the Middle East. It’s one of only two military posts in the nation that have places for the Army to shoot long-range cannons, he said.
“They’ve poured billions here in the past 10 years,” he said. “I don’t see them walking away from that. We could gain from it, actually.”
Short-term gains aside, the military has to cut $550 million during the next decade, and in the long run, that could produce painful results for the economy.