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Donnelly calling attention to state's defense industry

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As federal budget talks begin again, Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) hopes spending cuts are put into context.

Donnelly is a member of the Armed Services Committee and is doing what his office calls a “Defense Jobs Tour.”

He stopped at Purdue Monday to see research underway into propulsion and combustion, some of the work at the Zucrow Labs is funded by the military. Donnelly says the federal funding the university’s labs receive is a good investment.

“If you can see what I’ve seen here, you could see your dollars extraordinarily well spent,” he says. “We want to try to keep expenditures as low as possible, but use what’s necessary to keep us safe.”

He says it would be unwise to defund so much that the country falls behind in terms of national security. Donnelly says the work being done at Zucrow Labs protects members of the military.

“Whether they are in a Humvee, whether they are on the ground in Afghanistan…that they have the best equipment possible with the best technology possible and the brightest minds in the world working on it – that’s what we have here,” Donnelly says. “I wanted to emphasize the importance of what’s being done here.”

He plans to share the information gathered during his tour of the state with other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee as they begin budget negotiations. The current federal budget extension ends September 30th.

Donnelly doesn’t think the Department of Defense should take the brunt of all the spending cuts, and says the test should be: How wisely are dollars being used? Donnelly says there are several overseas military bases that he does not consider the best use of taxpayer money.

Zucrow Labs has about $9 million a year in research expenditures. The funding comes from the private sector as well as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and NASA.

“What’s being done here is amazing in its complexity and its importance,” he says. “The designs are creating greater energy usage, creating better and safer equipment for our military, and the cutting edge in terms of space exploration.”

His tour includes a visit to AmeriQual in Evansville, which is a leading supplier of individual and group rations to the military, and 181 Intelligence Wing of the Air National Guard in Terre Haute.

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