As Obama Administration officials eye significant cuts to the U.S. military, a new report from Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs reveals that the state's military installations remain the state's most valuable asset, with an annual economic impact larger than the Eagle Ford Shale, and four times the annual spending of state government itself, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Combined total is about $148 billion for all of those installations combined," Combs told Newsradio 1200 WOAI's Berit Mason. "In San Antonio, the impact of the Joint Base area is over $46 billion in economic impact."
By contract, the current state budget calls for spending roughly $48 billion on all services in the current year.
Combs says fully 6% of the state's total economic activity come from military spending, and 255,000 military and defense-related civilian personnel are stationed in Texas.
In addition, she says Texas has the largest population of military retirees in the country, families which would be affected as well by cuts in military presence in the state.
Combs says the three bases that make up Joint Base San Antonio have the largest economic impact of any military entity in the state. She says Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases, and Ft. Sam Houston, combine for a $46 billion annual economic presence.
Second is Ft. Hood with about $42 billion, and Ft. Bliss in El Paso with roughly $25 billion.
Combs says is it critical that political leaders look at these numbers, and consider their economic impact, before making decisions on force reductions.
"I put out the information about how important they are to the economy of the state," she said. "Whether or not there is another BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) round, there will probably be some look at the utility of each base, and I thought that as the CFO of this state I needed to put this out."
Combs also points out the value of the Texas facilities to the country's military readiness, from the basic military training that takes place at Lackland, to the Navy pilot training at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and Naval Air Station Kingsville, to the San Antonio Miltiary Medical Center, which trains medics and corpsmen for all services, and is the largest outpatient hospital in the Department of Defense.
Combs says you also can't discount the impact of the miltiary school districts, the subsidized housing for military members, and the major infrastructure which has built up over the last decade for long term care for badly wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.