Smooth sailing for EB
Amid steadily declining casino revenues, the uncertainty of state support for the tourism industry, and stubbornly high unemployment triggered in part by Pfizer’s plans to lay off 1,100 employees and move drug-discovery work to Massachusetts, the vitality of Electric Boat shines brightly as a beacon of hope in the region’s choppy economic seas.
The Navy’s decision last week to awarded Electric Boat one contract worth nearly $2 billion to continue early design work on a new class of ballistic-missile submarines, along with a separate $2.5 billion construction contract for the next two Virginia-class submarines, represent a Christmas present to southeastern Connecticut in a season filled with so many lumps of coal.
“For southeastern Connecticut, this is welcome news for ensuring stability in the historic gains our region has made in growing our submarine design workforce and a vote of confidence for the talented men and women of Electric Boat,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.
As home of the Naval Submarine Base and the EB shipyard, Groton prides itself as Submarine Capital of the World, but EB’s reach extends far beyond this town on the east side of the Thames River.
EB workers and subcontractors live in virtually every municipality from the Connecticut River to the Rhode Island border and beyond, and many towns are home to businesses that support the submarine construction industry.
New London in particular has benefited from EB’s 2010 purchase of Pfizer’s former world research headquarters on Pequot Avenue. The company now is the city’s largest employer, with its 2,750 work force hundreds larger than the one formerly employed by Pfizer at the New London facility.
In addition, EB’s continued prosperity was bolstered earlier this month when both the Senate and House versions of the $631 billion National Defense Authorization Act included $778 million for the Navy to proceed with the purchase of two Virginia-class submarines in 2014.
While the submarine manufacturer’s success should help keep the economy on an even keel, it should also serve as a reminder of the risks of basing a regional economy on one industry.
At the end of the Cold War submarine construction slowed and EB laid off thousands of workers; the Defense Department nearly decided a few years ago to close the sub base.
Business leaders and government officials must continuously set a course toward a diverse economy to weather future storms.
- Norwich Bulletin – Monday, October 22 7:30 p.m. The debate will take place in the Betty Tipton Room at Eastern Connecticut State University, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic.
- New London Day – Monday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m. The debate will take place in the Palmer Auditorium at Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London.
- Enfield Youth Vote – Thursday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m. The debate will take place at Enfield High. It is sponsored by members of the student body who will be asking questions of the candidates, 1264 Enfield Street in Enfield.
There is under a month until election day – get involved today!
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Norwich, Conn. —
As a veteran, I cannot thank U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, enough for the support he’s shown our servicemen and women. Joe worked hard to secure federal funding for the American Legion Veterans Housing complex in Jewett City, a long-awaited facility that will provide needed services for at-risk veterans in our area.
Recently, Joe email me about House passage of the Stolen Valor Act, a bipartisan proposal he strongly supported. This bill takes steps to ensure that those who misrepresent their military service, or honors received, are appropriately disciplined.
In addition, thanks in part to his support of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, I will soon be attending college for the first time.
Joe Courtney has demonstrated that he’ll continue to make legislative decisions that are in the best interests of our state’s veterans. Please join me in voting for him in November.
SARAH L. HAMBY
Sarah L. Hamby is vice chairman of the Pomfret Democratic Town Committee.
Courtney Introduces Legislation to Aid Understanding of College Financial Aid Options
Congressman Joe Courtney introduced new legislation last Friday to help students and their families gain more information about their financial aid options for higher education and a truer picture of actual college costs.
The Understanding the True Cost of College Act, which already has 11 cosponsors, would ensure that students and their families receive award letters in a standard format with understandable language and easy-to-understand terms.
“For many college-bound students, the hardest part of the process is no longer getting into college, but figuring out how to pay for it,” said Congressman Courtney. “With college costs having grown exponentially in recent decades, determining what financial aid an institution has provided and how much a student can and is willing to pay can be a difficult process with long-term financial impacts.”
He continued, “Students and their families are faced with complicated financial questions, exacerbated by financial aid letters that can be difficult to understand. This legislation would simplify the process, and help students and families better understand documents that can affect them for decades.”
Courtney’s legislation mirrors S. 3244 – a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year by Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota. It would require colleges to create a uniform financial aid award letter and include standard terms and disclosures in the letter.
The legislation also requires the letters to include key items such as: cost of attendance, the amount of aid students do not have to repay such as grants, the net cost after subtracting grant aid, work study, federal student loans, disclosures related to private student loans, and cohort default rates at the institution.
The Franken bill and broader effort have been the subject of a number of recent news and opinion pieces including a column last week by Gail Collins in The New York Times:
Courtney feted by doctor’s group
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, was named Congressman of the Year on Saturday by the Connecticut State Medical Society, the state’s largest physicians organization.
Courtney was selected to receive the honor to recognize his leadership on issues that directly affect patient access to medical care throughout the state.
According to a news release, Courtney organized the Connecticut delegation in support of HealthyCT, the nonprofit health insurance co-op sponsored by CSMS and the CSMS-IPA that was seeking recognition from the federal government.
HealthyCT received nearly $76 million in start-up and solvency loans in June and is on track to apply for a state insurance license so it can offer patients and small businesses a new choice for health insurance.
CSMS also applauded Courtney for his continued work as an advocate for reform of the Medicare funding and payment system.
Truth about Ryan Medicare plan is scary
Judith Stein Center for Medicare Advocacy Mansfield
I have represented Medicare beneficiaries since 1975. For almost 40 years I have seen Medicare provide access to health care for older and disabled people, and peace of mind for their families. Medicare was enacted because private insurance failed seniors. With Medicare, 98 percent of all people who are 65 or more have health insurance. For decades, private Medicare plans have been tried; they have continued to be more expensive and less reliable than the traditional program. This is particularly true in New London County, where private Medicare plans have swarmed in and out. Yet, the Ryan Plan would maximize privatization and give seniors a limited allowance to shop for a policy. The Ryan Plan is not better for people who rely on Medicare, their families, or taxpayers. That’s the truth, not a scare tactic.
Admiral says USS Miami will be repaired; hints at timing for women submariners at base
By Jennifer McDermott
Groton — Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert said Wednesday that the Navy will repair a local submarine by the middle of 2015.
The Groton-based USS Miami, which was severely damaged in a fire in May, still has 10 years remaining in its roughly 30-year service life, making it eligible for at least five more deployments.
Greenert discussed the Navy’s plans to repair the Miami (SSN 755) with reporters after an hour-long meeting at the Naval Submarine Base with Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge, commander of Submarine Group Two, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.
During his visit, Greenert also said female submariners soon could be assigned to the base, as they will begin serving on Virginia-class submarines as early as next year.
When asked about the Navy’s plans to continue bringing women aboard submarines, Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said “It’s going very well so far,” and “now we’re ready to move to the Virginia class.”
The attack submarines have smaller state rooms so the officers will be brought in incrementally, he said. These are the only type homeported in Groton.
The Navy lifted its ban on women in 2010 and started assigning female officers first to the larger, ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines.
“Next year we’ll be ready to do it, but we have to look closely and see who is interested, what are those numbers,” Greenert told the group in the meeting, which was webcast. “They’re not quite as high as we thought they would be, frankly, in the officer ranks.”
In his comments to reporters, Greenert said he feels comfortable that the Miami’s extensive repairs, which mostly will involve cables, pipes and some internal components, can be finished by the middle of 2015 for about $450 million. The components were overheated or damaged by the smoke during the May 23 fire at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The shipyard worker accused of setting the submarine on fire has been charged with arson.
The Navy released a statement later Wednesday that said the estimated date to complete the repairs is April 30, 2015, so the submarine can serve for an additional decade and complete five planned full-length deployments. The Navy expects to award an advanced planning contract in September, followed by the repair contract in the spring.
The Navy is nearly finished checking the metallurgical aspects of the hull since the intense heat could have changed the circularity and metallurgical makeup, Greenert said, but he doesn’t think the hull plating will need major replacements.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will do most of the repairs, but Greenert does expect Electric Boat to be involved, given the company’s expertise as the manufacturer of the submarine.
As Los Angeles-class submarines are retired more quickly than they are being replaced, the Navy is facing a shortfall of attack submarines. The Congressional Budget Office has suggested that the Navy could buy three attack submarines annually for many of the years between 2014 and 2023 to prevent that deficit.
EB and Newport News Shipbuilding are at a “sweet spot,” delivering submarines on time and under budget, Greenert said, so he would have to evaluate carefully any potential change to the program.
He said the Navy is looking at other ways to shorten the period of time when there will be fewer than the specified 48 attack submarines — such as performing maintenance quicker, lengthening deployments from six months to six and a half months, and extending the life of some Los Angeles-class submarines by three or four years.
A career submariner who learned his craft at the Naval Submarine School, Greenert said returning to the base Wednesday was like coming home because professionally, he “was born here.”
He said the Navy is committed to the base. While nearby Electric Boat builds and launches submarines, the base builds and launches “minds” at the submarine school and prepares “our future submarine force.”
“I think it will be here for awhile,” he said, adding his prediction that there would not be another round of base closings in the near future, and that the base will have “a bright future here in Connecticut.”
The base was nearly closed during the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment process. Blumenthal, who invited Greenert to Groton, said the admiral’s allegiance and loyalty to the base is “very apparent, which is heartening to us.”
He and Courtney said they were encouraged by the meeting since it appears as though the submarine programs are on track. They discussed the Miami repairs with Greenert, as well as the Virginia-class construction schedule, the program to build a new class of ballistic-missile submarines and the plans to develop a module with missile tubes that could boost firepower on the Virginia-class boats.
“In my view, it was a very positive and upbeat summary of where we are,” Blumenthal said.
Courtney said both congressional offices will be “well-positioned to make sure these important priorities really get across the finish line, in terms of both budget and policy bills that both of our committees are working on.”
August 11, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Emma Pietrantonio
Courtney statement on selection of Paul Ryan as GOP vice presidential nominee
COLCHESTER, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney today released the following statement on the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee:
“Governor Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee affirms a Republican commitment to policies detrimental to middle class families, seniors and small businesses. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Ryan crafted a budget plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, extend additional tax cuts for millionaires and slash education programs, including college aid.
“Not only would the Ryan Plan double the interest rate on Stafford loans, it would also cut the Pell Grant program — the cornerstone of increased access to higher education — by $170 billion. Congressman Ryan’s plan would cap grants and force scores of students into private lending markets. At a time when student loan debt exceeds home loan debt, car loan debt and has surpassed $1 billion, we can not afford to keep piling debt onto America’s next generation of workers.
“Neither our greatest nor our future generations can afford this callous scheme that would preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans by placing a disproportionate burden on the backs of middle class families, students and seniors”
Panetta says no base closure round will take place next year
By DAVID LERMAN
Defense secretary says Congress opposed process
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there will be no new round of military base closings next year, abandoning a proposal he made in February that Congress was set to oppose.
“It’s now clear obviously there will not be a round of BRAC authorized” in 2013, Panetta said Monday in a speech to the Association of Defense Communities in Monterey, Calif., referring to the base realignment and closure process, known as BRAC.
“Frankly, this was no surprise,” he said, noting that in anticipation of congressional opposition, he had not allocated any money in the budget to initiate a new round of closings.
“I didn’t put any money on the provision,” Panetta said. “But it’s an important debate to have and, frankly, it’s not going away.”
The House and Senate Armed Services committees rejected a new base-closing round in their versions of the annual defense authorization bill for next year. Many lawmakers questioned the effectiveness and fairness of the 2005 closure round.
“Now may not be the time for BRAC as our economy recovers, but sooner or later, one way or another, the department is going to need to take a hard look at its basing infrastructure as we seek to reduce our overhead costs,” Panetta said in prepared remarks.
The Pentagon chief had proposed two new closing rounds in 2013 and 2015, saying the Defense Department must cut excess infrastructure as the military becomes smaller.
Otherwise, money needed for training the troops will be spent to maintain unneeded bases, he said.
“It’s the very definition of hollowing out our force,” Panetta said.
He acknowledged complaints from Congress that the cost of previous closings “were way out of line from what was predicted” in some cases. Even so, the prior rounds of closings are saving about $8 billion a year, he said.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, released the following statement Monday night in response to Panetta’s announcement:
“In January, when the Pentagon first announced its BRAC request to Congress, I did not hesitate to oppose the measure. In fact, I called it ‘dead on arrival.’ My justification then was based on the serious questions that still surround the 2005 BRAC, which, to this day has not produced a single penny of savings for taxpayers. Although some expressed skepticism at the time that my position would prevail, Secretary Panetta’s pronouncement today recognizes the validity of my criticism.”
“I continue to believe that the justification for a new BRAC round does not exist, but in the meantime, we as a delegation will continue to redouble our efforts to strengthen the Groton Sub Base’s military value, which is the best guarantee to an enduring future.”
Grant will help Fresh New London create ‘healthy food hubs’
Published 08/02/2012 12:00 AM
FRESH New London will be working with Wholesome Wave, a national nonprofit that supports small and mid-sized farms and is the recipient of a $568,150 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Commerce grant to support the establishment of local “healthy food hubs,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced Thursday.
Under Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Initiative, the funding will help build capacity, increase access to financing and provide business assistance and planning to local organizations. FRESH New London will provide a source to connect locally grown and locally processed food from rural areas with urban communities.
“This targeted, competitively-secured investment will put fresh, locally-grown foods onto more tables, and will provide a boost to eastern Connecticut farmers,” Courtney said in a news release. “By increasing access to financing and business assistance, this funding will help farmers grow their small businesses, secure their futures, and, in the long run, protect jobs here at home.”
“This innovative, joint USDA/EDA funding to Wholesome Wave is especially helpful to New England farmers and food producers,” Gus Schumacher, executive vice president of Wholesome Wave, said. “The demand for regional and local foods by schools, hospitals and colleges is growing exponentially. New food hubs are starting or expanding to meet this demand. Such hubs will generate additional revenue to the region’s farmers and food producers through aggregating their products. This federal funding couldn’t be more timely