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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Waive Income Taxes on Retirees’ Military Benefits, South Carolina Paper Urges

  • January 6, 2015
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As part of an effort to attract retired veterans, South Carolina lawmakers should pass legislation eliminating the state’s income tax on military retirement benefits, according to an editorial in Tuesday’s Aiken Standard. Taxes from retirement benefits currently generate $22 million in revenue annually, but a policy to exempt such benefits from income taxes would boost economic growth if it helps the state attract more retirees, the paper said. “Such tax relief shouldn’t be seen as a mere display of patriotism, it would ultimately be a smart economic tool for the state’s future …

New Players Mean Budget Deal Remains a Long Shot

  • January 5, 2015
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With new lawmakers heading up the House and Senate Budget committees in the 114th Congress, the likelihood that Congress is able to duplicate the late-2013 agreement that lifted the fiscal 2014 and 2015 defense spending caps by a total of $31 billion appears remote. That deal was negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), but both are moving to new committee assignments this year. At this point, it’s not entirely clear how their replacements, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), plan on addressing sequestration. If Congress does not revise the 2011 Budget Control Act, the topline for defense spending would rise only $1.7 billion to $523 billion in FY 2016 …

Commission to Focus on Modernizing Military Benefits, Not Slashing Them

  • January 5, 2015
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The recommendations of a nine-member commission established by Congress to review military compensation will focus on updating pay and benefits offered by the military so they are more appropriate for 21st Century personnel, rather than trimming them, according to a spokesman for the panel. “It’s fair to say we have identified a number of efficiencies,” Jamie Graybeal, spokesman for the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, told the Hill last week. The commission’s chief aim was to preserve the all-volunteer force by improving benefits not valued by service members and eliminating redundancies …

Puerto Rico Selects Master Developer for Roosevelt Roads

  • January 5, 2015
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The Puerto Rican government last month picked Arlington, Va.-based Clark Realty Capital to transform 3,000 acres at the former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads into a $3.2 billion mixed-used development focused on eco-tourism. The 30-year project proposed by Clark calls for hotels, housing, offices, retail stores, restaurants, a light industrial area, a cruise ship port, a marina, a terminal for high-speed ferries, schools, golf courses and other uses. The Roosevelt Roads LRA selected Clark over two other candidates — Uruguay-based Ariel Investment and Puerto Rico-based OHorizons …

One Group Objects to Local Effort to Build Support for Army Installations in Hawaii

  • January 5, 2015
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Local leaders striving to retain the Army’s presence in Hawaii in the face of a restructuring intended to eliminate up to 70,000 troops by fiscal 2020 are being forced to compete with one group that is embracing an Army proposal to shed up to 19,800 soldiers and civilians at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii — in conjunction with the office of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell — has been asking residents to sign a petition demonstrating support for the Army mission on Oahu as part of its “Keep Hawaii’s Heroes” campaign. The chamber said the loss of the soldiers, civilians and 30,000 family members would represent about 5 percent of Hono­lulu’s population …

New Website Helps Service Members Locate Housing in Host Community

  • January 5, 2015
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The Defense Department has launched a website, HOMES.mil, to help service members and their families, and DOD civilians find rental housing located near military installations. The listings provided by property managers are verified by military housing offices, reports the Navy Installations Command housing program. “HOMES.mil modernizes the way Navy Housing provides information on local rental properties and improves the housing service centers’ customer service to sailors and their families while helping to alleviate some of the burden and stress of PCS [permanent change of station],” said Greg Wright, Navy Housing program director. HOMES.mil offers a database of available rental listings, as well as contact information for service members’ current or prospective housing office. Military personnel also can use the site to list their own rental properties. The site allows property managers to create and update their listings, which can include photos, floorplans and descriptions of amenities.

Quality-of-Life Milcon Projects Shortchanged in Budget, Appropriators Point Out

  • December 23, 2014
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Cuts in the services’ military construction budgets to free up funds for operational readiness are placing the needs of service members in peril as essential quality-of-life milcon requirements such as child development centers, physical fitness facilities and troop housing are going unfulfilled, according to the House and Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations subcommittees. “Deferral of needed QOL [quality-of-life] investment can adversely impact troop readiness and jeopardize the health and safety of service members,” according to the joint explanatory statement accompanying the FY 2015 omnibus spending bill signed into law last week by the president …

Independent Commission to Consider Army Size, Force Mix under Authorization Bill

  • December 23, 2014
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An independent commission will make recommendations regarding the proper end strength of the Army and mix between its active and reserve components by Feb. 1, 2016, under the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill President Obama signed the into law last week. H.R. 3979 follows language in the House and Senate Armed Services versions of the annual policy bill calling for an eight-member National Commission on the Future of the Army. The members are slated to be appointed by the president and Congress within 90 days …

Local Officials Confident about Future of Malmstrom AFB

  • December 23, 2014
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Officials in Great Falls, Mont., are confident that Malmstrom Air Force Base will remain a key component of the region’s economy, given the importance of the installation’s nuclear weapons mission. The base is deactivating some nuclear missiles next year, but that is not expected to translate into a loss of personnel or duties, reported the Billings Gazette. Officials say Malmstrom’s mission is expected to remain a vital part of national security for at least 15 years …

Connecticut Governor Reappoints Bob Ross as Military Affairs Director

  • December 22, 2014
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Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy on Monday said he would reappoint Bob Ross as executive director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs at the beginning of his second term in office next month. Ross has been at the helm of OMA since 2009, when he was appointed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. As executive director, Ross supports Connecticut’s military families, advocates for Connecticut’s defense industries, coordinates efforts to prevent the closure or downsizing of Naval Submarine Base New London, encourages the retention of established military missions and the relocation of new ones to the state, and serves as a liaison to the state’s congressional delegation on defense issues …

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