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Politics

Rick Scott Sounds Alarm over Obama Cuts to National Guard in Hurricane Season

July 4, 2013 - 6:00pm

Just a month into the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, Forida Gov. Rick Scott is sounding the alarm over draconian cuts to the National Guard set to take place Monday.

The cuts are expected to affect 50 percent of Florida's Guardsmen, resulting in the furlough (forced leave without pay) of several, and a 20 percent pay reduction to those who remain active.

"[T]he National Guard offered to take funding reductions from other areas in their budget that would not impact personnel. The Guard also requested to take reductions before or after hurricane season so as to not affect emergency response capabilities, a Friday statement from Scott's office noted. Unfortunately, both requests were denied by the federal government. Now, many Florida National Guard members will be forced to take leave without pay beginning Monday.

On June 5, just four days after the start of hurricane season, Scott sent a letter to Florida's U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, begging their assistance in convincing President Obama to take Scott up on his offer to lend the assistance of the state's budget experts to the U.S. Department of Defense, a suggestion that also appears to have been rebuffed.

Scott's letter notes that the cuts mean Florida Guardsmen will now need at least two additional days to mobilize before any storm hits Florida, at an even greater cost to the state, to say nothing of the impact on public safety."

Republicans have frequently accused the Obama administration of purposefully withholding federal funds from critical areas in order to give the appearance that mandatory spending cuts from the 2013 budget sequestration are catastrophic for the country.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at 954-235-9116.

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