Legislation Incorporates Recommendations from July 2015 Task Force Report
Two bills Assembly Democrats Wayne P. DeAngelo, Nancy Pinkin, Cleopatra Tucker, Bob Andrzejczak, Herb Conaway, Jr. and Bruce Land sponsored to fortify New Jersey’s five military installations gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.
“Our military installations clearly play an important role when it comes to national defense, but when you consider the thousands of jobs tied to the military, the businesses that support the installations and the billions of dollars in revenue that the installations generate, the local economic significance of New Jersey’s military installations is irrefutable,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Any legislation that supports our installations, therefore, will have a positive impact on our state as a whole.”
New Jersey’s military installations provide 45,631 direct jobs and 27,603 indirect jobs, according to the July 2015 Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force report. The bases add $6.5 billion of wealth to the state’s gross domestic product and create $9.6 billion in business revenues.
“These proposals are aimed at protecting the existing military facilities while expanding the ties between them, the surrounding communities and the businesses and workforce associated with the installations’ activities,” said DeAngelo. “We saw the impact that the closure of Fort Monmouth had on the state. We must do whatever we can to ensure that another base closure does not happen here.”
A-2514 (DeAngelo, Pinkin, Tucker): The bill would permit municipalities to enter into shared services agreements with military bases in New Jersey, as recommended by the task force report. A 2013 federal statute empowers military installations to enter into intergovernmental support agreements with state or local governments to provide, receive or share installation-support services where such agreements enhance mission effectiveness or create efficiencies or economies of scale, including cost reduction.
“Shared services between military installations and adjacent communities can alleviate budgetary pressures facing municipal governments,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Pooling resources ultimately will benefit taxpayers in these regions.”
“The federal government has created a pathway to a more efficient use of tax dollars, and New Jersey should take advantage of it,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “There’s no reason for those who live on a military base and residents of the community outside the base to have, for example, independent police forces, fire departments and public works personnel if sharing them is a viable, cost-cutting option.”
The bill received unanimous approval from the Assembly.
A-2515 (DeAngelo, Pinkin, Tucker, Andrzejczak, Conaway, Land): The bill would establish a 12-member New Jersey Military Skills Council in the Department of State to assess the condition of military skills and training in New Jersey and advise the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Education on expenditures from the Workforce Development Partnership Fund and other state funds for the training and education of workers in preparation for jobs with the military and supporting industries.
“Just like any other sector, the military functions best when it can assess its needs and fill any gaps with well-trained individuals,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army. “This legislation will help New Jersey prepare residents for roles that fortify our military.”
“Working with the military isn’t limited to engaging in combat. There are important roles for medical professionals, mechanics, engineers and many others with special skill sets,” said Conaway (D-Burlington), who served in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. “Establishing the Military Skills Council will help New Jersey educate residents in an effort to meet the various needs of our armed forces.”
“There are many opportunities for residents of New Jersey to serve their nation, but we need to figure out exactly where those opportunities lie and how to connect people to them,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. “This council will serve the dual purpose of strengthening our military and making sure that our residents are qualified for good jobs.”
The council would compile an annual report on: the comprehensive needs of the installations and key industries; employment barriers; deficiencies and opportunities for growth in the current workforce; alignment of curriculum and ways to enroll students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs; development of resources, benefits and outcomes; preparation of workforce development strategies; and engagement of educators, military and industry to ensure workforce alignment.
The council would be comprised of: the Secretary of State, the Adjutant General, the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the chair of the Employment and Training Commission, the Secretary of Higher Education, the commissioner of the Department of Education, two senators, two members of the Assembly and two public members.
The five military installations located throughout New Jersey are: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington and Ocean counties; Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County; United States Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County; Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic County; and United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May County.
The bills stem from the recommendations of the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force report issued in July. The task force was created by executive order upon the urging of the New Jersey Council on Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs, on which DeAngelo serves.
The bill passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature and now heads to the governor’s desk.