After years of belt-tightening, the military may be seeing its budget inching up. As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, this spending could have a major impact in Mississippi.
Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo says with the threats facing the United States today, he believes more should be spent on the nation’s defense.
"The Marine Corps is actually looking at foreign countries to deploy United States Marines on foreign-made, foreighn-flagged ships, because we don't have enought ships in our arsenal to deploy, and that's sad. We need to fix that," he says.
Palazzo says south Mississippi could be a part of changing this: the National Defense Authorization provides for an extra amphibious assault ship that would be built in Pascagoula and equates to about 3,000 jobs.
The U.S. House and Senate are working to finalize the National Defense Authorization, which totals $612 billion so far - that's up 6 percent from last year.
Palazzo spoke Monday at a military affairs luncheon in Gulfport, which is home to the Air National Guard's Combat Readiness Training Center. Lt. Col. Paul Drake is the center's new commander. He says for the first time in a couple of years, there is talk of manpower increases to make up for earlier, severe cuts.
"What that manpower will consisent of is yet to be determined, but it will be a mix of civilian contractors and technicians going forward," he says. "That will enable us to continue to provide the joint warfighter the excellent training venue to accomplish all the tasks that need to be accomplished for missions around the world."
The Gulf Coast is also home to Keesler Air Force Base, a Seabee base, a Coast Guard station, and Stennis Space Center, which has about 1,800 Navy workers and contractors.
Statewide, military spending contributed more than $11 billion to the state’s economy in 2014.