Texas would be able to provide more financial assistance to communities trying to support a neighboring military installation or cope with a downsizing, under legislation moving in the state Senate.

On Wednesday, the Veterans Affairs and Military Installations Committee passed a bill raising the cap on grants from the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant program from $2 million to $5 million, reported the San Antonio Express-News. Senate Bill 318 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The cap needs to be higher because of Texas’ population growth since the program was created in 1997, said state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D), the bill’s author. It also would help Texas compete with other states fighting to preserve their military bases.

“I know Texas is very far behind in providing help to our military bases and communities,” Hinojosa said.

“This would really assist the communities that have a base located in their area that need some help in making it a lot more attractive to keep it open,” he said.

Hinojosa told the committee the state has funds for the grant program this year even though it has failed to provide any grants for the last two sessions. The grants require matching funds from participating communities.

One community representative supporting the measure is Bob Murdock, director of the Office of Military Affairs for San Antonio, which has received $8 million through the program to redevelop the former Kelly Air Force Base.

“I think that it would not only be a great benefit to the city of San Antonio, and our local redevelopment authority, but to other communities that have local redevelopment authorities,” Murdock, ADC’s past president, told the legislature.

Posted on www.defensecommunities.org