A statewide committee that’s been looking at military base realignment during the past year has made some recommendations.
The task force wants to work to make sure military bases in Ohio don’t end up on the chopping block when and if the federal government decides to downsize in the future. Retired Wright Patterson Air Force Base commander Col. Cassie Barlow says the group came up with two recommendations.
“To create a state level office of government and military affairs, independently reporting to the Governor’s office," Barlow says. "And second, to create a funding line in the state budget to support this office in their work."
Barlow says other states have an office like this and find it helpful in keeping bases open.
The head of the task force, state Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek), introduced legislation that calls for establishing an office of government and military affairs in Ohio. The independent agency would report to the governor and could authorize loans or grants to defense or NASA operations in Ohio.
"I don't care how much this costs, the return on investment is going to be huge," Perales says.
Military bases in Ohio have a collective payroll of more than $5 billion and provide more than 60,000 federal jobs, plus another 50,000 related jobs.
The last base realignment and closure review by Congress in 2005 brought more than 1,100 jobs to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, which is the state's largest military site with about 27,000 employees.
Other sites include the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, NASA Glenn Research Center near Cleveland, Lima Army Tank Plant and Toledo Air Guard Station.
But committee members said Ohio may have missed out on getting more jobs and questions have been raised about why the state doesn't get a bigger share of defense contracts given its size.
"We don't rank as highly as you would think," said retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul Sullivan, a task force member. "We can do better."