The Governor’s Committee to Support the Military today released their 2020 report with recommendations for policy changes and legislative action to improve education, health care, quality of life, workforce development, encroachment, and infrastructure as they relate to the military community of Texas.
“I am grateful for the Committee’s hard work in developing meaningful recommendations that will improve the lives of our military members and their families,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “The 15 major military installations and Army Futures Command in Texas are not only critical to our nation’s defense, they also add over $123 billion to the state’s economy and support, directly and indirectly, more than 633,000 jobs in communities across this great state. As we work this Legislative Session to unleash the full might of the Texas economy, we must ensure that the nearly 2 million military service members and veterans, and their families, who call Texas home have the resources they need to prosper. With the guidance of this Committee, we are one step closer to that important goal.”
The recommendations include:
- Military Child Education Coalition: Ensure the current $500,000 biennium funding for the Military Child Education Coalition is appropriated by the Legislature to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) budget.
- Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC): Continue working with federal partners to encourage data sharing between DMDC and TEA; establish a reporting process that allows TEA to measure the Military Readiness component of College, Career & Military Readiness.
- Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: Renew efforts to amend Chapter 162 of the Texas Education Code to establish a state council for the Military Compact; incorporate input from military families and best practices from other states in determining membership.
- Connecting Veterans and Active-Duty Personnel to Services: Continue to seek a comprehensive information solution to assist military service members and family members that provides navigation through the vast breadth of services available but also tracks actions taken and solutions to identify both successful programs and gaps in services.
- Mitigate the Impact of Lost Property Tax Revenue Due to the Disabled Veterans Residence Homestead Exemption: The Legislature should continue to explore options to mitigate the negative resource impact on communities and provide aid to disproportionately impacted communities.
- Increase Integration Between Texas Educational Providers and Military Installation/Industry Skill Requirements: Encourage high schools, technical and community colleges, and universities to invest in programs that support advanced manufacturing and technology demands; require TEA to consider the needs of Texas military bases and military industry, and to align educational programs; encourage the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a similar process.
- Interagency Contracts between the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and the Military: Continue to pursue legislative changes that allow for TxDOT to enter into interagency agreements or contracts with military installations for federally funded maintenance, improvement, relocation, or extension of existing roads on the installation.
- Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) Program: Fully fund the DEAAG program to $30 million, leveraging the program’s 247% return on investment to help enhance military installations in Texas while protecting those installations and jobs in surrounding communities from potential negative impacts of any future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) or stationing decision.
- Encroachment on Military Training: Consider additional protections against deliberate impacts of encroachment on military training areas to include encroachment that may pose a national security threat; protections must balance individual property rights and the need for legislation or policy changes that strengthen the state’s protections against encroachment.
- Elimination of Regional Military Sustainability Commission in Texas Code: Eliminate Section 397A from Local Government Code, Title 12 and work with appropriate partners to identify new strategies to replace the Regional Military Sustainability Commissions’ with land/air use limitations or restrictions, regulatory strategies, or other tools to preserve military use areas inside or outside municipal boundaries.
The Governor’s Committee to Support the Military was established in September 2018. The Committee is comprised of up to 22 individuals including Texas-resident veterans, community leaders, and business leaders. Essential duties of the Committee include:
- Study and make recommendations on how best to maintain and enhance military value at existing military installations in Texas.
- Study and make recommendations on how best to make Texas a more attractive destination for additional military missions.
- Collaborate with local governments and chambers of commerce to explore surrounding civilian infrastructure and identify competing and complementary needs between private development, the rights of private landowners, and military necessities.
- Examine the 2005 criteria used by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission and identify strategies to avoid future base closures.
- Coordinate with the Texas Military Preparedness Commission and Texas Military Value Task Force.