ATLANTA – State Representative Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), chairman of the House Military Affairs Working Group, and the members of the House Military Affairs Working Group recently visited Washington D.C. to speak with Georgia’s congressional delegation about protecting Georgia’s military installations.
“Georgia’s congressmen and senators were unanimous in their support of our military and they appreciated the dozen military-friendly laws we passed in Georgia during the 2017 legislative session,” Belton said. “Our state’s congressional delegation also cautioned that BRAC is coming sooner rather than later. After speaking with leaders on Capitol Hill, I am more convinced than ever that Georgia must prepare now for base closings.”
The House Military Affairs Working Group met with 11 of Georgia’s congressmen, both of Georgia’s senators and the Deputy Secretary of the Army and the Deputy Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon about ways strengthen Georgia’s military bases.
“The Army and the Air Force were both very pleased with Georgia’s pro-military initiatives, including my new ‘School Choice’ law for children of military families,” Belton said. “They were also interested in Gov. Deal’s ‘Move On When Ready’ program that allows students to get college and technical college credit while in high school, and they praised our STEM and charter school initiatives. The House Military Affairs Working Group told the Pentagon about the recent improvement in Georgia’s K-12 graduation rate, which is up from 70 percent to 80 percent in just five years, and we touted Georgia’s educational ranking and our universities and technical schools. The deputy secretaries asked our state to establish charter schools on our military bases and proposed admitting civilians to military hospitals, an enterprise that could provide health care services in rural areas. We will explore both of these ideas.”
Georgia has the fifth largest military population in the United States with an annual economic impact of over $25.5 billion. The military is Georgia’s largest single employer, creating 150,000 jobs and indirectly employing almost one-third of a million Georgians. One in ten Georgians are associated with the military, including 750,000 veterans, and Georgia ranks second highest in volunteers who serve in our armed forces.
“The economic risks are very real, and with so much at stake, Georgia must remain vigilant to protect our military installations,” Belton said. “All of Georgia’s bases, with the exception of Dobbins Air Reserve Base, are located deep in the heart of rural Georgia and are some of the only economic ‘bright spots’ left in those areas. The loss of any of our bases would be catastrophic to these communities where poverty is already high. Our military-rich rival states spend millions of dollars every year to protect their installations. In fact, half of all states budget over $1 million annually on commissions to protect their bases. This puts Georgia in a tight spot, as these rival states have much deeper pockets than we have. Georgia plays a vital role in our nation’s security, and we must do everything we can to preserve our bases.”
“I appreciate Speaker Ralston’s leadership in allowing my working group to continue this important work, and I look forward to tackling these issues and improving the lives of Georgia’s active-duty military personnel and veterans in the upcoming legislative session,” Belton said.