State lawmakers have set aside $500,000 to boost infrastructure at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a bulwark to protect the base in a future round of military base closures.
A conference committee put the money in the two-year state budget after lawmakers stripped out $2 million state Rep. Rick Perales had advocated for inclusion as they grappled with how to cover hundreds of millions of dollars in a projected shortfall.
The state will set aside $250,000 a year for two years at Wright-Patterson if the budget is approved and signed by Gov. John Kasich on Friday.
Perales, R-Beavercreek, advocated money be added after the Ohio Military Facilities Commission rejected a Wright-Patterson plea for a portion of $5 million in state funds.The money was instead split between two Air National Guard bases in Toledo and Mansfield.
“After meeting with the leadership on the base, I found that there are projects that are complimentary to ongoing federal capital projects that could be accomplished for $500,000, and I was able to take that back to my leadership and push hard during conference committee for that funding,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
Perales is chairman of a state task force to prepare Ohio for the possibility of a BRAC round. “… There is no question in my mind that Ohio’s investment in its military installations over the past few years will better position us for the potential force structure actions in our future,” he said in a statement.
Pressure has mounted in recent years to close unneeded bases.
The Pentagon has said the Air Force and the Army will have nearly a third more space than needed by 2019.
Congressional leaders have said a new round of base closures could happen in 2021.
Staff writer Lynn Hulsey contributed to this story.