Rhode Island to get millions for defense

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rhode Island will receive more than $93.45 million in defense and military contracts from the federal government in federal fiscal year 2009 after the Senate approved part of the government budget for the next fiscal year. This value is up from the almost $50 million in defense and military contracts Reed secured last year.

The funds were requested by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and were approved as part of a continuing resolution that will fund most government agencies until March 2009, according to a Sept. 29 statement from Reed’s office.

Among the items awarded to Rhode Island is a $4 million grant to improve anti-terrorism efforts at sea, a $29.9 million military fitness facility and $2.4 million to “expand a futuristic submarine attack center” in the Ocean State, according to the statement.

“This federal investment is vitally important to the continued presence and growth of Rhode Island’s military facilities, which play an important role in our state’s economy,” Reed said in the statement.

An estimated 16,000 people work in Rhode Island’s defense industry, which contributes around $1.6 billion annually to the Rhode Island economy, according to a 2006 report commissioned by the state to study the industry.

Reed is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees, both of which are influential in determining the allocation of federal funds.

The continuing resolution – which also contained Homeland Security funding, provisions to allow offshore drilling on U.S. coasts and a $250 million grant for cancer research in Rhode Island – was passed in the Senate on Saturday and the House last Wednesday, while members were negotiating the terms of the $700 billion bailout.