LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Governor Whitmer has reached out to U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III again seeking military investments in the Michigan base at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
The second letter that Gov. Whitmer’s submission comes after a series of meetings with the Secretary including two visits last summer and virtual and in person meeting with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks in her effort to obtain Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) investment in the state’s A-10 fighter mission.
“Leading future fighter missions at Selfridge is the smart thing for Michigan, the Air Force, and our nation,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “Michigan is strongly positioned to support critical Air Force missions – across our state there are over 4,000 businesses engaged in defense and aerospace work, supporting nearly 166,000 jobs. Collectively developing a replacement fighter mission for Selfridge is an effort that’s united Democrats, Republicans and independents across our state, and I will work with anyone to secure this crucial investment and bolster our national security.”
Despite Federal aid, Gov. Whitmer expressed her interest in reducing their contributions by helping from the state level for the costs.
“I repeat my commitment to funding upgrades, which would significantly reduce the cost to the Air Force by almost $100 million,” Whitmer’s letter said, “I look forward to sharing more with you about the next steps in this commitment as we solidify our state budget in the next few weeks.”
Senator Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) attended one of the summer ceremonies at the Selfridge base with Gov. Whitmer and Sec. Kendall III.
“I’m thankful that the governor sees this as an important topic for the state of MI and is leaning in to advocate on behalf of us for this state with the federal government.”
While he has considered the historic A-10 program a great asset to the Air Force for a long time, Michigan wants to get something new and on the cutting edge, the F-35 Jet Fighter Plane. He believes that attaining this new program is a matter of local and statewide importance.
“Getting the F-35 here in Michigan would be a huge boost not only to that base but also our local economy,” Hertel said, “It’s something I will be fighting for; I’ve sent letters in the past as a member of the state house in my previous position.”
As newly elected Chairman of the Military and Veterans Affairs/State Police Appropriations Subcommittee, Sen. Hertel also views military funding as focus for the new session.
“I believe there is a huge opportunity, we have a large aerospace and defense sector here in the state, but really in my backyard, in Macomb County right now,” Senator Hertel said, “There is a massive opportunity to grow that industry in the state.”
According to Michigan officials, Selfridge boasts an estimated $850 million in economic impact state-wide, affecting roughly 5,000 military and civilian support personnel. The governor also reiterated in her letter how she is interested in helping by the reduction of Air Force costs while replacing the A-10 fighter mission at the base.
“I think the Aerospace and Defense sectors will be extremely important to [growing the state],” he said, “And in working in conjunction with our automotive partners that are already at GM and Ford that have a history of working in the defense space and so I think we can not only increase manufacturing jobs and increase technology jobs because there are so many different technology aspects now, and create some real great opportunities in the state.”
Besides growth of the economy and keeping Michiganders employed and present in the state, this funding is also an opportunity for bipartisan support.
“I have already spoken with my Republican colleagues and I was in a meeting last week in Macomb County,” Senator Hertel said, “This is an issue that is not partisan, this is just important for the state of Michigan to make sure we’re growing our economy and respecting these roots that we’ve had in our armed forces.
The senator expressed that there was no doubt that both parties could work together on the issue.