Gov. Perry Announces $365 Million Package to Bring Navy Master Jet Base to South Texas
Gov. Rick Perry today announced the state is committing $50 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund as part of a $365 million incentive package aimed at enticing the U.S. Department of Defense to move equipment and personnel and create a Navy Master Jet Base in the South Texas Coastal Bend Community.
The package of incentives, which is contingent upon the establishment of a Master Jet Base in the coastal bend area, was developed after the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission last month placed Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia on the list of military bases recommended for closure. NAS Oceana is home to a Master Jet Base and currently operates with approximately 10,000 military and civilian personnel and approximately 250 aircraft.
"Today I am proud to announce that should defense leaders decide to move the assets of NAS Oceana to Texas, we are prepared to commit more than $365 million to improve facilities and infrastructure at Naval Station Ingleside, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and Naval Air Station Kingsville," Perry said, noting that these new funds are in addition to the $458 million recently committed by the state for infrastructure improvement projects in Coastal Bend defense communities.
Perry outlined the state's offer in a letter last week to Anthony Principi, Chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
"The Coastal Bend is the ideal location for a Master Jet Base because we have plenty of available land, unencumbered air space, excellent weather and the strong support of the entire community, including environmental leaders such as the local chapter of the Sierra Club and the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program," Perry said.
In contrast, Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia has severe urban encroachment problems, troubles with noise pollution and opposition from many citizen organizations that are working to see the base closed.
The package of incentives the state is offering includes:
* A $50 million dollar grant, made available through the Texas Enterprise Fund, will be used to assist in land acquisition, environmental studies, range development or other infrastructure needs.
* The Texas Department of Transportation will build and operate a rail spur from Union Pacific's main rail line to Naval Station Ingleside. This project is estimated at $15.2 million and upon completion the Department of Defense will have access to the line at no cost.
* At the governor's request, TxDOT has made available an additional $100 million for transportation improvement projects on and around NAS Kingsville, including the expansion of Chapman Ranch Road from two lanes to four. This road connects NAS Kingsville to south Corpus Christi.
* A $200 million low-interest loan fund financed by the sale of State of Texas General Obligation bonds has been made available to community leaders to meet other infrastructure and facility needs of the Navy and the local defense community.
"This $365 million investment is a win-win for Texas and the U.S. Armed Forces," Perry added. "The military will benefit from modern and expanded facilities and save funds to spend on other critical priorities.
"The Coastal Bend and the entire state will benefit from increased economic activity. And our men and women in uniform will benefit because they will be living in a state and a community that supports and appreciates them like no other," Perry said.
Perry also praised the efforts of Secretary of State Roger Williams, who serves as the Chairman of Texas' BRAC Response Strike Force, federal officials and an unprecedented coalition of local leaders who are fighting to protect Coastal Bend installations.
"With one voice, we have delivered a clear message to defense leaders weighing the future of Coastal Bend installations: that these facilities have a military value beyond measure, and must be kept open for the interests of the War on Terror and the continued security of our homeland," Perry said.