State legislator awaiting money for task force recommendations

Thursday, May 29th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) _ A state legislator expects recommendations made by a task force studying how Oklahoma should deal with the next round of military base closures will get funded.

But State Rep. David Braddock, D-Altus, said he may not get final appropriation numbers until Friday, when the Legislature is due to adjourn at 5 p.m.

``We're going to get money. We're not sure exactly how much and in what areas,'' Braddock told the Lawton Constitution on Wednesday.

The Bush administration will carry out a new round of military installation closures in 2005. Oklahoma has five facilities: Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Fort Sill Army post in Lawton, Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Altus Air Force Base in Altus and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester.

Braddock was chairman of the Oklahoma Military Base Closure Task Force, which issued a final report earlier this year.

Some proposals don't require money, but Braddock is seeking three separate appropriations of new money.

He said he's confident of winning approval of about $200,000 to hire a firm to assess state military installations and see how they are likely to fare in the base closure process.

``That's a doable deal. That's going to happen,'' Braddock said.

He also wants $1.25 million, or $250,000 for each affected community, to provide them resources to fight efforts to close their local military installations.

The communities would have to match the $250,000 in state funds.

``The bottom line is, what we're trying to do is help the communities get ready,'' Braddock said. ``They have to do it themselves. We can assist them.''

The rest of the money Braddock is seeking would provide training for civilian workers at the military installations. That would enhance the state's position in the base-closure process by guaranteeing to provide trained workers, he said.

Braddock said the Legislature has approved his House Bill 1396 to set up an Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, which succeeds the now-disbanded task force and will continue to study how the state can help its military installations.

The next stop is Gov. Brad Henry's desk for his signature, Braddock said.

Braddock's HB 1397, would fund infrastructure needs for military installations.

``There's no money in it right now,'' he said of the measure.