State Treasurer Clint Zweifel issued a report aiming to shore up the state’s military installations and contractors.
The report comes several months after Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Zweifel to head the Missouri Military Partnership, an initiative to bolster defense installations throughout the state. Missouri is home to several major military bases, including Whiteman Air Force Base in western Missouri and Fort Leonard Wood in mid-Missouri.
“[Department of Defense] spending in Missouri results in $40 billion in economic activity and hundreds of thousands of quality jobs,” the report states. “Military members and installations in this state play a key strategic role in the protection of this country and citizens around the globe. Quite simply, military is a way of life in Missouri. One we intend to keep.”
Among other things, the report’s 16 recommendations include:
- Creating a statewide, nonprofit group to advocate for Missouri’s military installations and contractors.
- Working with community colleges and government agencies to provide financial literacy education to military officials and their families.
- Dedicating an official within the governor’s office to the state’s military affairs.
- Forging agreements with labor unions to allow military experience to count toward an apprenticeship program.
- Creating a "Missouri military portal" to include "critical information for policy makers planningfor the future and highlight the key role DOD investments play in Missouri’s economy."
In a conference call with reporters, Zweifel emphasized that the suggestions are achievable. He said he had directed his office “not to get caught up in the day-to-day decisions that Congress is making and instead focus on controlling and building up this that we can control.”
Zweifel was referring to prospect of major cuts to the military – possibly including a base-closing commission. The report emphasized, though, that Congress hasn’t approved that commission – known as a BRAC – in the last two sessions.
Missouri "must focus on areas where it can truly move the needle,” Zweifel said.
One goal -- to educate military personnel about financial literacy -- is meant, Zweifel said, to steer them away from “predatory” lenders who charge high interest rates.
“Protecting our servicemen and women from financial exploitation is a moral responsibility that has been mentioned by commanding officers, Pentagon leadership and families that I’ve met with,” Zweifel said. “From enlistment to deployment to retirement, it is critical that we lead here in Missouri in providing resources that protect the financial stability of all members of the military here in Missouri and their families.”