HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania is joining the move by states to defend their military installations from the possibility of Defense Department cutbacks after Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday signed an order setting up a commission to advocate for the state's bases.
Corbett appointed Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley to lead it. Other members will include an appointee by the state House speaker, the Senate's president pro tempore, the minority party leaders of the state House and Senate, and others that Corbett chooses to appoint.
The move comes after the Air Force began seeking to shut down the 911th Airlift Wing in suburban Pittsburgh and U.S. Congress passed legislation last year that requires nearly $500 billion in defense cuts over 10 years beginning on Jan. 2, although some lawmakers are now looking for ways to avoid that.
"I think Pennsylvania needs to be taking a look at the issues themselves and we need to be well represented," Corbett said at a news conference at the 28th Division Infantry headquarters in Harrisburg.
Last year, several state lawmakers formed a "military installations caucus" to protect what they call 164,000 defense-related jobs in the state. Sens. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, and Wayne Alloway, R-Franklin, said they met with the governor several months ago to discuss the need for Pennsylvania to advocate for its bases.
Over the summer, the Defense Department told the Air Force to postpone a decision on whether to close the 911th Airlift Wing after pushback from the base's advocates.