Going on offense over Defense spending: Biden touts benefits to states

A Patriot Missile system is demonstrated by Army Sgt. Joshua Brouse to Philippine airmen on April 19, 2023, as part of an annual exercise between the military of the two countries. Patriots are one of the defense systems built in Arizona, according to the White House. (Photo by Sgt. Connor Davis/U.S. Army)

An airman loads weapons bound for Ukraine onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sept. 14, 2022. The U.S. has sent more more than $75 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded two years ago. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Marco A. Gomez/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON – When the Senate approved $95 billion in military and other aid for Ukraine and Israel earlier this month, President Joe Biden singled out Arizona as one of the states that would benefit from the increased defense spending.

It’s not clear whether Ukrainian aid is entirely the cause, but there’s no question that defense spending has been good to the state. The Pentagon spent $15 billion in Arizona in fiscal 2022, the last year for which data is available, up from $14.6 billion the year before.

That boosted Arizona back into the top 10 among states, from 13th place in fiscal 2021.

And the amount spent in fiscal 2022 may be more than what the Pentagon reported: A study done last fall for the governor’s office said that total military spending in the state in fiscal 2022 was $15.5 billion on an industry that supported 78,780 jobs directly or indirectly.

Robert Medler, president of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance, said the report for the state, the so-called Maguire Report, shows the defense industry’s economic strength, saying it has a “sizable chunk of an impact on the Arizona economy.”

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In its annual Defense Spending by State report for fiscal 2022, the Pentagon said more than half of the spending in Arizona – $8.2 billion – went to Raytheon. Northrop Grumman and Honeywell came in a distant second and third with $855 million and $642 million in Pentagon business, respectively, that year.

That domestic spending was highlighted by Biden, as he urged House leaders to take up the aid package.

“While this bill sends military equipment to Ukraine, it spends the money right here in the United States of America in places like Arizona, where the Patriot missiles are built; and Alabama, where the Javelin missiles are built; and Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas, where artillery shells are made,” Biden said.

The bill would provide $60 billion to support Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security provisions to Israel, $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid, and $4.8 billion to support Taiwan. It passed 70-29 – both Arizona senators voted for it – on Feb. 13.

That vote capped months of negotiating with Senate Republicans, who had insisted that immigration reform be tied to the aid package – before they stripped it out at the last minute and approved the aid package on its own.

The House has yet to consider the measure, and it’s not clear if House leaders will let it come up for a vote in its present form when they return this week from a two-week recess.

Alan Maguire, president of The Maguire Company, said spending from the federal government is vital for the Arizona economy.

“Virtually all the money that drives the military industry in Arizona is money that comes out of the Department of Defense,” said Maguire, who wrote the comprehensive Military Economic Impact Report for the governor’s office.

Maguire agrees with Medler that the role the defense industry plays in Arizona’s economy will only increase as time goes by.

“What I heard in the year and a half that I worked on this study talking to the commanders and their staff at the various bases is they’re all expecting additional missions,” Maguire said of his report, which is done every six years.

“When the different branches look at places to put an additional mission, the Arizona facilities look very good,” he said. “You’re in a friendly state, you’ve got the Goldwater Range (the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range), and you have access to a huge metropolitan area when a lot of the bases in the country are in relatively rural areas.”

Medler said the defense industry should serve as a point of pride for Arizonans – for more than just the economic benefit it brings to the state.

“National security is important, everyone agrees with that, and to be able to have those industries in Arizona and provide the best technology in the world for our warfighters and our national security is something I think Arizonans are proud of,” Medler said. “Obviously, the economic benefit is great, too.”

Ian McKinney(he/him)
News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Ian McKinney expects to graduate in May 2026 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication. McKinney worked as a production intern for KJZZ’s “The Show.” He loves to try new things, is competitive and prides himself on helping other people succeed.

News Digital Producer, Phoenix

Aden Schulze-Miller expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Schulze-Miller has interned in digital production with The Arizona Republic and has reported for West Valley media outlets.