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State Forms Task Force To Protect Military Bases, Jobs

The Florida Senate - November 8, 2011, Senator Don Gaetz, District 4

Six Northwest Floridians named to panel established by Senator Gaetz

Six Northwest Floridians will join six other military and civic leaders from elsewhere in the state to form the Florida Defense Support Task Force, a high-level commission established to advocate for the state’s military bases and missions. The Task Force, appointed by Governor Scott and the legislature’s two presiding officers, takes up its duties at a time when the 7th Special Forces of the US Army and the F-35 are arriving in Northwest Florida while at the same time Air Force cutbacks threaten civilian and uniformed jobs at Eglin Air Force Base.

A product of legislation sponsored by Senator Don Gaetz (R-Niceville), the Florida Defense Support Task Force is authorized to make recommendations to prepare the state to effectively compete in any federal base realignment and closure action and to support the state’s position in research and development related to military missions or contracting. As well, the task force will recommend to the Legislature ways of making the state more military-friendly for uniformed personnel and their families.

With twenty-one military bases and missions located in the state, the federal military presence brings $58 billion into Florida’s economy every year. In Gaetz’s Northwest Florida district, base personnel and contracts tied to five installations pump $14.5 billion of economic activity into the region. The defense industry is the state’s 3rd largest job producer.

“The anticipated military drawdown planned by the Obama Administration is likely to be substantially wider in scope as a result of federal budget deficit negotiations,“ Senator Gaetz said. “California, Arizona and other states will be working overtime to move our missions west. While final decisions will be made in Washington, the State of Florida has to aggressively make the case for our jobs and our bases. That’s why I sponsored and the Legislature passed the Defense Support Task Force legislation.“

Gaetz’s bill carries with it a $5 million appropriation to help fund research and advocacy on behalf of the uniformed and civilian jobs tied to the state’s bases.

Speaker of the House Dean Cannon named Representatives Rich Workman (R-Melbourne) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) to represent the Legislature on the Task Force. Workman comes from the Space Coast, hit hard by the end of Space Shuttle missions, while Gaetz is the legislator-lawyer who sued the City of Valparaiso when that municipality attempted to stop the F-35 from coming to Eglin AFB.

Others named to the panel by Speaker Cannon include Dr. Ed Naggiar, Lynn Haven, and General Arthur F. Diehl, III., Tampa.

Other appointees from Northwest Florida, all chosen by Senate President Mike Haridopolos, include Tom Neubauer, head of the Bay County Defense Alliance in Panama City, Okaloosa County Judge and retired Army General Patt Maney, Okaloosa Economic Development Council Chairman Dr. David Goetsch, and J.R. McDonald, Vice President of Lockheed-Martin.

Governor Rick Scott’s choices for the task force are Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney, Jacksonville General Emmett “Buddy” Titshaw, St. Augustine, Barbara A. Stewart, Avon Park, and General Joseph J. Taluto, Palm Beach Gardens.

All members will serve four year terms ending in 2015.

The group will begin its work immediately and will report to the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House.

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To view this article at the source publication, go to http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressRelease/Show/Senators/2010-2012/District4/PressRelease/PressRelease20111108141612727.

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.