December 14, 2016 10:04 AM
The House Study Committee on Military Affairs has yet to issue its final report, but its impact will continue to be felt within the General Assembly. The committee was established via a House resolution to study ways to strengthen and protect Georgia’s military installations in advance of a new round of military base consolidation and closures similar to the one in 2005 that led to the closure of Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem. Those two closures meant that the Peach State lost one third of its military installations, and lawmakers are seeking to avoid a similar result in the future.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Dave Belton, briefed legislators on the committee’s findings at the recent Biennial Institute in Athens.
“The military is Georgia’s No. 1 employer with an economic impact of $20 billion,” said Rep. Belton. “Our state lost one-third of its military installations in the 2005 BRAC, and additional BRAC closures could have devastating impacts on our local communities and our state’s economy. The military wants to save money by consolidating bases, and it is our duty as legislators to do everything in our power to preserve and defend our military strength. Military-friendly policies are crucial to protecting our installations, and I hope my colleagues in the General Assembly will support any related legislation that is introduced in the upcoming legislative session.”
One of the factors those deciding which military installations will be designated for closing is the quality of education available to the children of the military members stationed at a base. Quality of life issues such as education can go a long way when making a decision on which facilities to keep.
At the committee’s final meeting earlier this month at North Georgia College in Dahlonega, Speaker David Ralston addressed committee members. Noting that military installations affect every corner of the state, the Speaker said, “Bases mean jobs, and viable economic impact. They mean the difference in a thriving community and one which struggles. It is also clear that our military installations mean the chance for a brighter future for many Georgians.”
The Speaker praised the work of the study committee, saying that their report will an important contribution to the legislature as it considers how to best protect Georgia’s military installations. He announced that once the legislature convenes in January, he will establish a permanent committee that will be charged with continuing the efforts of the study committee. “I feel that it is imperative that we continue this conversation,” Ralston said. “I feel that it is imperative that the nation know that we are continuing this conversation.”