DALLAS — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is urging Congress not to cut funding for military bases in the Sunflower State.
Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Riley are both vulnerable to staffing cuts as a result of budget constraints and the need to downsize the military ranks.
"The downsizing of either of these bases would be a loss not just to national security but to the economic health and well-being of our state," Brownback, a frequent critic of other federal spending, said in a prepared statement after sending Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and John Arbrust, executive director of the Governor's Military Council, to Washington to lobby against the pending cutbacks.
"Through John Armbrust and the Governor's Military Council, I am working to protect Kansas bases from the threat of downsizing by the federal government," Brownback said.
Ft. Leavenworth in eastern Kansas, could lose as many as 2,500 of its 5,200 military and civilian employees, according to the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment from the Defense Department issued in June.
Fort Riley in north central Kansas could lose 16,000 employees under a worst-case scenario. The Army post has about 20,000 military and civilian employees.
Ft. Leavenworth, established in 1827 is the oldest active Army post west of Washington, D.C. The historic post is home to the only U.S. military maximum security prison. Fort Riley is home to the Big Red One, 1st infantry division, which played a pivotal role in the D-day landing in 1944.
The Defense Department study indicated that the Army must reduce forces from a wartime high of 570,000 to at least 450,000, and possibly as low as 420,000. The report is open to public comment through August.
In testimony before the Kansas Legislature in February, Arbrust said that military activities add $7.5 billion to the state's economy, with more than 160,000 Kansans employed. Property and income taxes derived from military bases and related businesses come to about $350 million to $400 million per year, he said.
The 26-member Governor's Military Council is designed to promote cooperation between the installations and private and public sectors. The council also serves as a liaison with the Department of Defense.