Military bases pump almost $5 billion into South Carolina's economy each year. With the next round of base realignment and closures (BRAC) scheduled for 2005, local representative Catherine Ceips (R-SC Dist. 124) is proposing a bill that would help bases across the state. This bill would not only help South Carolina communities save their bases, but would also help them rebuild their community if they lose a base.
The upcoming BRAC is expected to trim 25 percent of our nation's military bases.
"I really believe that if South Carolina is doing everything it can to make it easier for the base to be here, then it will assist," Ceips said.
The bill, called the South Carolina Military Preparedness and Enhancement Act, would create a committee formed under the governor's office that would help communities deal with BRAC issues by giving them the opportunity to borrow $25 million in low-interest loans to help save their bases or help build up their communities if they were to lose one.
"We're going to be able to deal with encroachment issues, education issues, infrastructure issues, which will help stabilize bases," Ceips said. "Then they may be able to increase their missions, which would help save the bases in South Carolina."
This bill also would allow communities to work with utility companies to help reduce the costs of operating the bases, along with helping them offer tax incentives to developers, who want to build military housing. "It's really not in the end going to cost South Carolina anything, because it's a low-interest loan that communities understand must be paid back," said Dr Cynthia Levy, who's a former assistant secretary of defense.
If the legislature passes this bill, Catherine Ceips is hoping it will be in place before the fall, which will be just in time for the next round of BRAC.