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Op/ed: Fighting to keep Ventura County military bases open


By Tony Strickland on March 2, 2012

U.S. Dept. of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently announced his plan to request two rounds of military base closures through the Federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission program.

The BRAC program, which was implemented after the Cold War, was created to identify and shut down obsolete military bases. With the recent release of their 2013 budget, the U.S. Dept. of Defense plans to ask Congress to approve a new round of base closures, one as early as next year and one in 2015.

With Port Hueneme and Point Mugu providing both national security and an economic benefit to the people of Ventura County, I plan to fight to ensure these bases are kept open.

To that end, I have asked Gov. Jerry Brown to authorize the formation of an unpaid, volunteer task force for the strategic purpose of preserving California’s military bases.

Similar task forces have been created in the past, but have since expired. The California Council on Base Support and Retention was created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 and was co-chaired by Leon Panetta. The California Military Base Reuse Task Force was created by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1993.

In addition to requesting a task force, I have introduced Senate Joint Resolution 19 to encourage the California Congressional delegation to help preserve these bases that are an invaluable part of our local community.
Congress has the authority to approve the base closures, so we need to make sure our representatives in Washington, D.C., know just how important Ventura’s military bases are.

Bases in Ventura County impact our local economy. They provide roughly 19,000 much-needed jobs to people in my district, and help boost local small businesses.

According to a 2006 Economic Impact Study performed by the Workforce Investment Board of Ventura County, Naval Base Ventura County produced in 2006 an estimated $1.2 billion in goods and services, over $900  million of which was retained locally.

Additionally, about $166 million in taxes were attributed to NBVC in 2006, almost $70 million of which went to state and local governments. The impact Port Hueneme and Point Mugu have on our local community should be preserved. Closing down these bases would be a huge detriment to Ventura County.

With the benefits our local military bases provide, I’m hopeful Gov. Brown and I can work together to ensure the bases in my district are kept open. These bases need to continue to function as positive resources for the people of Ventura County.

• State Sen. Tony Strickland, a Moorpark Republican representing the 19th District, is running for Congress in the newly formed 26th district. The economic  importance of NBVC and Vandenberg AFB in Santa Barbara County were the subject of Editor Henry Dubroff’s column in the Feb. 17-23 edition of the Business Times.

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