2016-08-18 / Opinion


Be Proactive in Supporting Defense Economy

To the Editor:

Naval Station Newport, home to many tenant U.S. Navy commands, including Coast Guard commands, Army Reserve units, a Marine Corp and NOAA command, forms the anchor for Rhode Island's defense economy. As a result of the 2005 federal Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), the naval station added hundreds of jobs and grew in its ever-increasing importance and criticality to our national defense. One of the unique tenants is the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC).An economic impact analysis of the RI defense sector was accomplished by Professor Edinaldo Tebaldi of Bryant University. In the report accompanying his analysis, NUWC is described as the “U.S. Navy’s principal research, development, test and evaluation center for undersea weapons systems and many other systems associated with the undersea battlespace.” And NUWC is currently adding hundreds of well-paying jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

The defense economy is vital and critically important to Aquidneck Island, Newport County, Rhode Island and our national defense. As stated in the Tebaldi Report, in 2013 the Rhode Island defense sector, which includes the military defense infrastructure and the private defense industry, supports approximately 33,000 jobs which equates to 6.2 percent of the state’s total employment. Additionally, our defense economy added approximately $3.7 billion to the state’s economic output. And it generates approximately $105 million annually in tax revenues for the state, which includes $47 million in personal income tax revenues and $58 million in other tax revenues.

The defense sector is the state's highest paying. In 2013, the average annual wage of a civilian NUWC employee was approximately $111,000. The average annual wage for all Rhode Island civilian employees working for the Department of Defense was approximately $94,000, and the average annual wage of Rhode Island private defense industry workers was $70,000.

The average annual wage in the private defense industry in Rhode Island was 61 percent higher than the average wage in non-farm industries ($43,500), 36 percent higher than the average wage in manufacturing ($51,200), 89 percent higher than average wage in education and health services, and almost four times the average wage in the leisure and hospitality industry ($18,500).

Clearly, the defense industry is vitally important to our local and state economies and, most importantly, our national defense. The question regarding BRAC is not whether another will occur; it’s a question of when. We need to do all in our power to ensure our coveted defense industry remains vibrant, is nurtured and fares as well in the next BRAC round as it did in 2005. We need to be proactive in our efforts. In fact, this is one of the impetuses for having created the Rhode Island Defense Economy Planning Commission, of which I’ve been a co-chair for the last many years. The time to act is now!

Sen. Louis P. DiPalma
Senate District 12, Middletown

Move Beyond Status Quo

To the Editor:

This election year more than ever, we must expect actions over words from our elected officials. Our state is in dire trouble as the status quo politicians have turned the tables, and the average voter is now the servant rather than the elected official.

Over the last few months, current Rep. Lauren Carson has had to damage control regarding yet another committee she sat on that turned out to be a fiasco. Tourism, resulting in “Cooler and Warmer” was first; now her assignment on the Oversight Committee on 38 Studios.

The reality is that in the last session, Rep. Carson voted to kill the very Oversight Committee she sat on.

Continue taxpayer bond payments to Wall Street.

And voted against an independent investigation.

All of these actions are on the backs on Newport taxpayers and our kids.

Genuine “concern” over not letting another 38 Studios occur is by dealing with what did occur: a theft of over $100 million of taxpayers' money. Protecting taxpayers instead of politics is by voting for an independent investigation. Not one that was a sham, as Kilmartin, being one of the players , did not recuse himself from that investigation.

As current status quo state leaders who are stuck in the past are talking nice words, our state is being bled dry. Let’s move Newport and Rhode Island forward this election season.

Michael W. Smith
Independent Candidate
House District 75

Informed Representation

To the Editor:

Bill Welch would do well to have a conversation with James Cawley, who Welch is supporting as the House District 72 representative (“Political Relationships Matter,” Aug. 11).

Mr. Cawley has been going door to door soliciting support for his election. When I asked Mr. Cawley about his take on the disputes surrounding Nicholas Mattiello and his support or nonsupport of recently failed legislation, Cawley claimed not to have enough information to offer an opinion.

If Mr. Cawley is telling the truth, then that is an indication of his lack of interest or knowledge of something that has been part of a daily conversation for many months. And if he is not being forthright, he appears to want to appeal to all voters without them ever knowing his true beliefs. Either way, this is not a good way to begin a campaign for elected office.

Welch questions how well Linda Finn “can represent us at the Statehouse.” Perhaps he should answer the question of how Mr. Cawley can “represent us” having so little knowledge or interest in understanding what has being going on in Providence for the past year.

Lawrence Frank

Least of Our Problems

To the Editor:

Scott Wheeler deals with a lot in this town, all those trees. Surprised he’s dealing with a weather vane, more surprised someone has complained about the City Hall vane ("Give Us Direction," Aug. 11). Doubly surprised anyone looks up, checks their weathervanes, and knows which way is N/E/W/S, which, of course is "News." The city indeed needs a new sense of direction, this country will need help in the future; the weather vane is the least of our problems.

Nannette Herrick

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