The General Assembly on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation sponsored on the Democratic side by Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt urging Congress to exclude Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Picatinny Arsenal when considering future defense department budget cuts.
The measure (AR-110), approved by a vote of 78-0, comes in response to a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense that it will propose reductions in the size of U.S. Armed Forces to pre-World War II levels, as well as in the bases that support military operations.
"The joint base is a huge economic engine for the surrounding area and any reductions or closures could have a devastating effect on the military and civilian personnel who have staked their livelihoods around these operations," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "I hope Congress will take these families and communities into consideration when deciding on future reductions or closures."
"Any reduction in the personnel or operations of either the joint base or the arsenal could have a catastrophic effect on the communities and businesses that surround them," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "For my district, in particular, the base is a huge employer, one that we simply can't afford to see shut down."
The sponsors noted that the joint base is the state's second-largest employer, with more than 44,000 employees, and it contributes approximately $6.9 billion into the region, indirectly supporting 65,000 jobs at stores, businesses and restaurants in the surrounding area.
Furthermore, the arsenal is one of the largest employers in Morris County, employing 3,907 civilians, approximately 93 military personnel and about 1,035 contractors, thus contributing greatly to the region's economy. The arsenal also provides products and services to all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and 90 percent of the Army's lethality and all conventional ammunition for joint war fighters.
"Recent reductions in federal spending on the nation's military has already had a serious effect on our installations in New Jersey, resulting in hiring freezes, vacant positions and units being deactivated," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "Any closures or reductions at McGuire or Picatinny would only compound these problems and devastate more families."
"Although these military installations continue to have a vital role in our armed forces, many business and civic leaders fear that they could be a prime target when Congress conducts another round of bases realignments and closures," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "For the sake of these military and civilian personnel, their families and the vitality of the surrounding communities, I hope Congress will refrain from any drastic cuts at these bases."
Copies of the resolution will be transmitted to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate, and New Jersey's entire congressional delegation.