As U.S. Senate returns flow in later this evening from around the nation, the Rhode Island politician with the most at stake is U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who is expected to coast to reelection.
First elected in 1996 to the seat held for 36 years by the late Claiborne Pell, Democrat Reed has accumulated enough seniority to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a crucial post for Rhode Island’s defense industry and the U.S. Navy installation in Newport that is anchored by the Naval War College.
A new report finds defense workers are being paid the highest wages in Rhode Island. The state’s Defense Economy Planning Commission released the report, which focused on the industry’s economic impact last year.
It finds there are 16,000 defense workers in the state. Commission co-chair Senator Louis DiPalma said those jobs support other jobs. “The 1.5 multiplier. So for every one job, there’s 1.5 additional jobs that can be multiplied by that. That’s a big deal,” said DiPalma.
General Dynamics has landed a $17.6 billion Navy contract to build submarines. The Virginia-class subs will be built at Electric Boat in Quonset Point. General Dynamics spokesman Bob Hamilton said this contract involves ten submarines, starting construction over the next five years at a rate of two per year.
It isn’t a surprise that Rhode Island’s Republican Party is having a difficult time finding a credible candidate to take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
Reed first won election to the U.S. House in 1990 and moved up to the Senate after the retirement of Sen. Claibone Pell. Reed has never lost an election and in recent campaigns has had easier and easier opponents.
Submarine maker Electric Boat is expanding its presence in the state.
Electric Boat has signed a 25-year-lease that expands its footprint at the Quonset Business Park by 40 percent. The company makes Virginia Class nuclear submarines for the Navy. The Navy recently doubled its order from one sub to two. Steve King, director of the Quonset Development Corporation which negotiated the lease, says the company will use the new space to accommodate the heavier workload.
A special tax break deal for large manufacturing companies that critics asserted was a giveaway to submarine manufacturer Electric Boat was withdrawn during last night’s Rhode Island House debate over the $8.2 billion state budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
At this time of the RI General Assembly session every year, when the State House gets as hot as a sauna and the rhetoric boils over, lawmakers are confronted with money items tucked into the arcane language of the state budget that don’t seem to have received much discussion but have an impact on state taxpayers.
One that for the most part has dropped below the media radar is what appears to be some very favorable treatment for a huge defense contractor that doesn’t really need state financial help, the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics.
Electric Boat is looking to expand its footprint at the Quonset Point shipyard. Electric Boat spokesman Bob Hamilton said discussions are preliminary at this point, but he said space will be needed for the construction of two, Virginia-class submarines and other work for the U.S. Navy.
“We expect to need some space for the Navy’s Moored Training Ships, which we’re involved with,” said Hamilton, “as well as the Ohio replacement, which is the next class of submarine.”
Hamilton said sequestration cuts will have a minimal impact on Electric Boat’s submarine building work.
(PROVIDENCE, RI) The President rolled out a plan last week to curb gun violence, and Electric Boat announced more jobs are on the way for its facility in Quonset. These are just a few topics Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay touched on when he sat down with Senator Jack Reed.
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