Georgia has the fifth largest military population in America with an economic impact of nearly $20 billion a year, according to reports from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The possibility of military base closures was a major reason the Georgia House of Representatives convened a Study Committee on Military Affairs.
The committee was comprised of 15 state representatives. They held six meetings around the state – Warner Robins, Albany, Columbus, Augusta, Marietta, Hinesville and Dahlonega – hearing from more than 100 stakeholders, local officials and military personnel.
The report concluded that there are four major categories that a committee of this nature should focus on:
Infrastructure & Encroachment Issues
It further recommends that the Speaker of the House create a permanent working group assigned to further investigate these issues “and others that may arise as Georgia looks to secure its military installations from a potential BRAC.”
Break out recommendations under each category are as follows:
Allow active-duty military personnel to choose any public school within their school system regardless of where they live.
Expand education opportunities for veterans integrating back into civilian life through Veterans Education Grants.
Expand education grants for K-12 schools near Georgia’s military installations to help strengthen the military value of that facility.
Expand STEM and other technical education opportunities near Georgia military installations and specifically to create a new/or expand an existing technical college near King’s Bay in St. Mary’s.
Recommend the University System of Georgia expand or develop programs in the fields of cyber, IT, computers and piloting to help meet the military’s need for college graduates in these areas.
Expand HOPE scholarship for reservists and the Georgia Guard.
Consider offering students who graduate from a University System of Georgia college or university in a STEM field, who then works for a certain number of years on a military installation in Georgia, to have some of their college costs paid for by the state.
Create a permanent House Military Affairs Working Group at the State Capitol.
Expand HB 821, passed in 2016, which allows military spouses and transitioning service members to qualify for temporary, expedited or endorsed professional licenses to cover as many military-applicable careers as practical.
Explore military-friendly caregiver laws.
Send members of the House Military Affairs Working Group to lobby their Congressional delegation in Washington on behalf of Georgia’s military installations.
Honor base commanders and military heroes of Georgia during the General Assembly.
Pass an income tax incentive for retired veterans.
Protect Angel Investor tax credits and Invest GA funds that have proven helpful to start-up businesses surrounding Georgia installations.
Encourage the revitalization of the Georgia Military Affairs Commission under the Georgia Department of Economic Development, staff with private funding, have it meet regularly and specify that chairs of the Georgia House Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Georgia House Military Affairs Working Group and the Georgia Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee be appointed to the commission.
Encourage the Georgia Department of Economic Development to:
Update and refresh their Georgia Military Strategic Plan at least every two years
Periodically write a Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat Analysis for all Georgia bases
Create a Joint Land-use Study for each military installation in Georgia
Create defense economic value grants for use near military installations.
Coordinate with Congressional delegation to find new missions and activities to add to Georgia’s installations to strengthen their military value.
Encourage military-friendly outreach efforts such as Moody AFB’s Red Carpet and Fort Stewart’s Landing Relief Fund at other military installations.
Infrastructure and Encroachment
Study encroachment/infrastructure issues impacting Georgia’s military installations.
Explore creating “BRAC Zones” around Georgia installations.
Encourage investments in bandwidth capabilities in and around installations.
Encourage investment in water, rail and transportation in and around installations.
Encourage “green energy” initiatives to help Georgia installations reach the military’s existing green energy goals.
Click here to view the full report.