Claims made by gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis during a campaign event in Windsor on January 27th are more than just misleading. McInnis reportedly told attendees in Windsor that military basing decisions during the past year have cost thousands of jobs in Colorado, and that a bi-partisan bill blocking the sale of state-owned lands to the Army is to blame. [Coloradoan article]
Department of Defense, Army, and Air Force decisions during the past year, have affected Colorado Springs and other military locations nationwide. For example, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates canceled the planned creation of three additional brigades, which would have been part of the Future Combat Systems that was trimmed down. [govexec.com daily feed article].
One of those brigades had supposedly been slated for Fort Carson yet last April the Army decided to relocate Division West headquarters to Fort Hood in Texas, which only resulted in the relocation of about 300 hundred people, [Army.mil news release 09] and in May the Air Force decided to locate its Cyber Command in San Antonio, Texas, rather than in Colorado Springs. [San Antonio Business Journals]
McInnis tried to imply that those decisions were prompted by a bill enacted last summer (with broad bi-partisan support BTW) but his implications don't hold water. He was referring to HB1317, which blocks the state from selling land to the Army for the expansion of Pinon Canyon. But McInnis is wrong on two important points:
1. HB 1317 was signed into law in June, after the basing and troop-strength decisions had been made, so it is unlikely that it had any influence upon those decisions. And
2. the basing decisions did not cause a loss of jobs in Colorado. In fact, the military population has grown in the state. For example, during the past four years Fort Carson has experienced its largest population growth since it was founded in 1942 [Carson.Army.mil News Release June 26, 2009]
Published reports in fact indicate that Fort Carson has actually grown by several thousand troops, and that the Army has received millions of dollars to fund new construction. For instance, the base added 6,500 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division headquarters and its 3,800-soldier 1st Brigade Combat Team [Fort Carson blog]
According to Fred Crowley, senior economist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, these additional troops created about 5,000 new jobs in Colorado Springs. [Colo Springs Business Journal]
So, McInnis' claims are completely wrong and in fact Colorado has become ever more dependent upon the military and federal dollars. However, the majority of true conservative Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents all over the country understand that throwing tax payer dollars at local economies does not resolve the economic downturn. Instead it robs dollars from people and businesses that create stable productive private sector jobs.
McInnis continues to spout non-truths and misconceptions, and if allowed he would nationalize land and steal jobs from the southeast Colorado economy. His "job math" does not include the jobs he would destroy in southeast Colorado by expanding Pinon Canyon and tying those federal subsidized dollars to the military does not make them effective or necessary. Our military should not be an economic tool for politicians and southeast Colorado shouldn't be allowed to be sacrificed let alone because of some make believe scheme by Mr. McInnis.
--Submitted to The Watch by The Pinion Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition