Daily Breeze - Al Muratsuchi
As your state Assembly member representing the South Bay, and as chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace, my top priorities include attracting and keeping aerospace jobs in California. To this end, I am committed to defending the Los Angeles Air Force Base from a new round of base closures.
Located in El Segundo, the L.A. Air Force Base is a key part of the foundation supporting the Southern California aerospace industry. The base is home to the Space and Missile Systems Center, a leader in managing space systems since the beginning of our nation’s space program. The Aerospace Corp., a federally funded research and development center, is also located at the base. Although the existence of this base is unknown to most people living in the South Bay, the base employs around 4,500 military personnel, civil service employees and technical support contractors. The base’s emphasis on research, development and acquisition of military space systems and its close proximity to the surrounding aerospace businesses in our community fosters a strong working relationship between the industry and the armed forces that put their technologies to use.
Much of the aerospace industry in Southern California continues to be based on defense contracts, with some companies generating as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of their business from the Department of Defense. Additionally, innovations from aerospace research and development have flowed over into the broader economy, providing opportunities for growth in a number of other sectors. The estimated economic contributions of the aerospace industry in Southern California are approximately $66 billion in output and $2.4 billion in state and local taxes. Yet, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., largely due to defense budget cuts over the past 20 years, Los Angeles County has seen its aerospace manufacturing workforce shrink by nearly two-thirds, or by almost 130,000 jobs.
As we see promising signs of economic recovery in California, we cannot afford to lose any more jobs in the aerospace industry. This is why I authored Assembly bills 777 and 927, both designed to provide tax incentives for creating aerospace jobs in California. However, there is still much work left to be done.
Suffering severe budget cuts and the fiscal impacts of sequestration, the Department of Defense is being forced to consider some drastic measures. In July, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called for a new round of base realignment and closures, or BRAC, in 2015. In past rounds since 1988, California suffered a disproportionate amount of the burden with approximately 30 percent of the total base closures and realignments in the nation and 50 percent of the nation’s base closure-related employment losses. Fortunately, L.A. Air Force Base was spared in the most recent BRAC rounds largely due to a strong advocacy effort led by local elected leaders such as former Congresswoman Jane Harman and past Redondo Beach Councilman John Parsons.
I will continue this fight to defend the L.A. Air Force Base from being closed down. As chairman of the Assembly aerospace committee, as well as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, I was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve on the Governor’s Military Council. Composed primarily of retired generals and admirals as well as aerospace industry leaders, the council’s mission is to protect and expand U.S. military operations in California.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Governor’s Military Council will gather at L.A. Air Force Base to focus on the strategic importance of the base. I fully appreciate how our South Bay communities have been built on the good jobs provided by the aerospace industry. I urge all of our elected officials, community leaders and citizens to join me in supporting the L.A. Air Force Base as not only a critical step in growing jobs and our economy, but also in keeping our nation strong and secure.
Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, represents the 66th District.