Cannon bill moves to Senate

David Arkin

Several Eastern New Mexico lawmakers have said funding for Cannon Air Force Base is among their top priorities this Legislative session.
The goal is almost accomplished.
Money has been approved for a variety of projects at the base, including funds for a special commission. The fate of funding for an overpass leading to the base will be decided sometime during the next few days.
The Legislative session ends on Thursday.
A bill that would implement tax cuts for military testing and equipment at the base was approved by the House this week and now will go to the Senate.
The bill also sets up the framework for a commission that will help keep bases in New Mexico.
For example, it establishes the way the commission would conduct meetings. It also allows some of the meetings to be closed to the public.
“The commission’s goal is to establish goals so that we keep open our bases,” said Jose Campos, a Democrat from Santa Rosa.
The bill could be heard today by the Senate.
“Everything’s going really well with the bill, but we need to get it out of the Senate,” Campos said. “If we can get this done it will be a great opportunity.”
Time is the enemy.
“The Senate should have voted on it (Tuesday),” Campos said. “They’ve been fighting all day over a few bills. They’re not getting down to work or putting out any bills. It’s getting frustrating.”
The tax deduction, Campos said, would be a boost for the eastern New Mexico economy.
“At one time some in the Senate wanted to get rid of the tax deduction part of the bill and I told them that this was such an opportunity for jobs in our state,” Campos said.
The bill isn’t the only assistance Cannon could be getting this session.
A capital outlay request submitted by a few eastern New Mexico lawmakers would provide funds for an overpass leading to the base. Lawmakers have requested $300,000 for the project.
Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, said the overpass project would cost $2 million and because of the high price tag officials are looking at numerous funding sources.
“We’re also hoping to get money from a federal program that would help pay for it,” she said.
There’s also money tucked away for Cannon in the state’s budget, which was approved by the House on Sunday.
The budget would provide $400,000 to support the Office of Military Base Planning and Support and the Military Base Planning Commission.
The timing of the funding and planning for Cannon are not coincidental.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s process at determining which bases could potentially be closed or realigned has lawmakers on edge.
The U.S. Department of Defense has announced plans to cut as much as 25 percent of the existing base capacity in the next round, which begins in May 2005.
Campos said more would be done for bases financially speaking in the future if needed.
“If we see any one of our bases are on the hit list we will come up with more money,” he said.