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Picatinny Arsenal Gets Part of $200K Lobbying Funds From New State Budget

Rockaway Military base employs 4,800; will see boost in support from Trenton.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
By Daniel Nee

New Jersey's 2015 state budget, signed this week by Gov. Chris Christie, includes $200,000 for efforts to protect two state military installations from closure by the federal government.

The funding had been requested by stakeholder groups hoping the state would act to prevent the closure of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Picatinny Arsenal in potential future defense budget cuts or base realignments. During the 1990s and in 2005, when the federal Base Realignment and Closure commissions were targeting military installations for closure – including, at one time, the former Lakehurst Naval Air Station – similar levels of state funding had been allocated to spur lobbying efforts. But in recent years, the funding has ground almost to a halt.

"Thousands of military and civilian jobs depend on this joint operation and we cannot afford the same economic loss as when Ft. Monmouth closed in 2011," said state Assemblyman Dave Wolfe (R-Ocean), lauding the move.

The Joint Base, located in both Ocean and Burlington counties, employs 40,000 people, about evenly split between civilians and military personnel, and accounts for nearly 65,000 indirect jobs through contractors and other businesses in the two-county area.

Picatinny, in Morris County, employs about 4,800 civilians and, like the Joint Base, supports a slew of indirect jobs through contractors that work on projects being developed at the site.

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton told the Ocean County freeholders last month that in the past, the state looked to the Rhoads Group, a lobbying firm led by Barry D. Rhoads, a West Point graduate who specializes in saving military facilities, to lobby on its behalf. Rhoads, Saxton said, is one of the people most responsible for saving Lakehurst and the other former individual installations in the 1990s and 2005.

At the height of the 1990s and 2005 rounds of BRAC proceedings, Rhoads' firm was paid $280,000 for lobbying services, but between 2005 and 2010, investments in lobbying decreased sharply. By 2010, the state was spending about $40,000 on lobbying in favor of protecting the state's military assets.

"New Jersey’s military bases are vital to the security of our country," said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, whose district includes a portion of Morris County. "They provide a wide range of technology and combat equipment necessary for supporting our military personnel around the world. They employ thousands of civilians and their importance to our economy cannot be underestimated."

The budget does not dictate how, exactly, the funding will be appropriated; a state agency focusing on military issues will eventually decide.
Clay Thomas July 02, 2014 at 07:52 PM
This place belongs in Utah, Nevada, or Arizona where munitions experimentation is safer, not New Jersey! Get it out of here before another disaster happens!
Aladdin Sarsippius Sulemenagic Jackson III July 03, 2014 at 04:52 AM
No way - keep the money and jobs here. Those red states already mooch way too much off the feds - they have to pull their own weight and get off the dole.
CC July 03, 2014 at 08:38 AM
Thank you Gov. Christie! Jon Baramnick too for the support! Great work.

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