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Budget Proposal Offers Funds to Help Prevent Military Base Closures

The governor is proposing to spend $200,000 to help communities gather economic evidence about how the closure of a base would impact their area. The money could help the 911th Airlift Wing make its case to remain open.

Buried deep inside Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal released this week is a small line item to help communities gather economic evidence about how the closure of a base would impact their area.

The $200,000 is just a drop in the bucket of the $28.4 billion budget, but it could go a long way to protecting the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township­–and other bases across the state–from being shuttered by the federal government.

Steve Kratz, a spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development, said that funding would provide additional staff for a committee tasked with gathering evidence about the economic impact of these military bases.

“That’s going to allow the committee to hire an additional staffer and provide additional resources to travel to military installations across the state and visit with base leadership,” Kratz said. “Essentially, they get an assessment of where we are as the state with BRAC.”

, immediately noticed the line item after hearing the governor’s address on Tuesday. He praised that funding proposal and thought it could help the case being made to keep the 911th.

“That will help bolster our claim that we need this base,” Smith said. “Communities and the state can use it to make an argument. That can be something we can use to really great effect.”

, agreed that the funding could be well-spent in this area.

"I do think it's important for there to be state money set aside (for an analysis) for the 911th,” Mustio said. “Absolutely. I will be pushing strong for that as I'm sure Sen. Smith will be.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, announced he is making his “final pitch” to save the 911th. Murphy this week spoke with Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, who is leading an internal group advising the Pentagon on whether to keep the 911th.

“We’ve done everything we can possibly do and have conveyed just how valuable the 911th Airlift Wing is to our nation’s security,” Murphy said in a press release. “Now the decision is up to Air Force officials and I trust they will make the right decision and consider the 911th a model for bases throughout the country as the Pentagon looks for ways to save money. But regardless of the outcome, we have a long road ahead for strengthening our local military bases if there is a future BRAC process.”

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