Anyone interested in military bases and their economic importance should read a recent article by Jim Cowan and Joe Driskell entitled How to keep the Army in Missouri: Improve the Schools. The focus was on the importance of local school achievement to the Army and the increasing role those schools play in determining if a base continues operations or is closed.
This focus was emphasized in comments by General Ray Odierno, outgoing Army Chief of Staff. General Odierno “warned that the performance of local schools will be a major consideration of the service in the placement of Army units around the country.”
Yet, Missouri could be placing the future Fort Leonard Wood at risk in the upcoming veto session of the Missouri legislature. The Republican leaders of that body are attempting to override Gov. Nixon’s veto of Right-to-Work. According to the AFL-CIO Rights-to-Work states spend 31.3 percent less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states.
It seems unlikely Missouri could spend less on education while improving the outcomes to a degree that keeps Fort Leonard Wood safe from closure.
What would Missouri look like without Fort Leonard Wood? According to the Stinson Center the Fort is responsible for 59 cents of every dollar earned in Pulaski County. The economic benefits are felt around the state.
Legislators should take General Odierno at his word when considering their vote on Right-to-Work. Is it worth lowering wages, shortchanging schools, and the loss of a major economic presence such as Fort Leonard Wood to allow someone that chose to work at a unionized facility not to pay for the services they receive?
UAW Local 2250