April 6, 2017 — Proposed federal budget cuts now before Congress could have a severe impact on the local region.
Lewis Lawrence, executive director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, reported to the commission during a meeting on March 22 in Saluda that his staff had done research and contacted a number of agencies to grasp how federal budget cuts might hurt the Middle Peninsula. They learned proposed budget reduction would affect many residents and might have a drastic effect on the commission.
The commission did not take a vote on the matter during the meeting at the MPPDC boardroom in Saluda.
One of the biggest losses in the region in terms of employment might be the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at Gloucester Point, which Lawrence stands to lose 45-55 highly-trained technical staff members, or 13-16 percent of its total workforce. “The rural coastal economy has no diversification to replace these lost jobs,” the MPPDC report said.
VIMS research might be affected in many areas, including oyster and clam aquaculture, an early flood warning system, the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and water quality monitoring, the report said.
Cuts to Virginia Sea Grant would lead to loss of public-private partnerships, loss of mobilizing university capacity to partner with community clients, and decrease capacity for support of Virginia’s shellfish aquaculture industry and the recreational and commercial boating industry. Elsewhere in the report it indicates that more than 11,500 commercial and recreational fishing licenses are held within the Middle Peninsula alone.