ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal announced this morning he has convinced a business group to take over a small government agency that channeled military concerns to the state.
The Military Affairs Coordinating Committee has been most active when Congress was considering closing military bases since its formation in 1994. In the last round of closings, Georgia had 13 bases the committee sought to preserve, but three wound up closed anyway. At the same time, several of the installations, like Fort Gordon, Fort Stewart and Fort Benning, expanded as they absorbed bases closed in other states.
Deal, a former Army officer who was once stationed at Fort Gordon, asked the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to fund staff for the committee, which is composed of volunteers appointed from communities with nearby bases.
“I greatly appreciate the Georgia Chamber’s willingness to undertake this vital task and encourage Georgians to support their efforts,” he said.
The move saves taxpayers about $200,000 yearly for the two retired officers who were on the committee’s staff. Since the state budget is tight because of weak tax collections, Deal has cut most agencies and sought to eliminate programs if they were unneeded or their goals could be achieved in the private sector.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the committee and the heads of the state’s installations can continue to make requests on how to strengthen relations between civilians and the military.
"The governor has made it his signature that he has an open-door policy. Certainly leaders in our community, such as base commanders, will have no problem getting the ear of our governor,” Robinson said.