AURORA | Colorado legislators introduced a bill March 18 that would buffer the state’s defense industry against a potential new round of base closures.
State Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, a sponsor of Senate Bill 157, said the bill would commission an analysis of Colorado’s defense industry and military instillations that would then be sent to the Department of Defense.
“In 2015, the process is going to begin on Base Realignment and Closure,” Carroll said. “Folks around the country are anticipating very significant cuts. One thing we can do to help maximize the chances of holding onto Colorado’s current military installations is to do this pre-do work.”
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes a request to Congress for a new round of base realignment and military closures in 2017. Under the president’s 2015 budget plan, the DOD could see its budget reduced by almost $1 trillion over ten years.
The state bill sets August as the deadline for when the state’s Department of Military and Veteran Affairs would need to issue a request for proposal to contractors to conduct an independent analysis of the state’s defense industry. The bill also says that the contractors would be required to analyze how cost effective the state’s military and defense industries are. It requires that the department select a contractor for the study by October, and that the study be completed before April 2015.
“This is the first time the Legislature has commissioned such a study,” said House Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, who is sponsoring the legislation. “The information we have now is scattered in bits and pieces.”
Colorado’s military installations have a $7 billion impact on the state’s economy, according to the bill. The bill also says that 20 other states have commissioned a similar study for the DOD.
During the last round of BRAC, in 2005, the Department of Defense closed 14 military installations and realigned a dozen others, according to the Pentagon.
Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora sailed through that round of cuts, but Aurora hasn’t always been so lucky. In 1991, Lowry Air Force Base, along the Denver and Aurora border, was closed during BRAC. And in 1995, the ax came down on Fitzsimons Army Medical Center.
For the first time in a decade, Buckley Air Force Base’s impact on the local economy failed to surpass $1 billion, said Base Commander Col. Dan Wright, in January’s state of the base speech. Wright said the base injected more than $800 million into the local economy, about $200 million less than it did in 2012.
Carroll said the study is likely to cost around $300,000. She said that money would go toward hiring experts in military operations, economic analysis, and federal law.
“If we lose our bases, because of the impact of billions of dollars, we think this is money well-spent,” she said.
The bill is also sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs.
Aurora Sentinel staff writer Brandon Johansson contributed to this report