MADISON– Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) released the following statement regarding AJR 88 and the potential F-35A operational beddown proposed at Truax Field Air National Guard Base:
“As a community, it is crucial that we advocate on behalf of the collective good of our friends and neighbors, while we work to move the 48th Assembly District and our state forward. As a state representative, I am dedicated to hearing the voices of all of my constituents, while promoting government transparency and civic engagement throughout the United States Air Force’s consideration and selection process for the proposed beddown.
The men and women who work at the Truax Air National Guard base support our country and our community– their children attend our schools, support our local businesses, live in our neighborhoods, and are an integral part of the 48th Assembly District. I support these brave men and women, and their contributions to our community. Further, I hear the voices of many constituents who see the F-35 proposal as a crucial economic lifeline for our city. The Air Guard is one of our region’s largest employers with the 115th Fighter Wing contributing to nearly $100 million in total annual economic benefit and over 1,500 jobs. To many in our community, the institution of the F-35s at Truax means new jobs and economic opportunity for our city, while ensuring the longevity of this community and economic partnership for years to come.
At the same time, from the preliminary environmental impact statement released through the National Guard Bureau and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, there are valid concerns about the impacts of the placement of F-35s in our community, including significant concerns regarding equity and environmental degradation. As someone who cares deeply about environmental sustainability and equality in Wisconsin, I am dedicated to examining any instances of possible degradation and injustice, while ensuring transparency and accountability in this process.
AJR 88, voted on today on the Assembly floor without ever being circulated to the Legislature, did not take into consideration the complexity and community impacts of this decision, but instead chose to use our brave military men and women as a diversion in order to deflect attention away from the anemic legislation being heard on the floor. I wholeheartedly support the people of the 115th Fighter Wing, but as a legislative body we should be on the Floor today discussing meaningful pieces of legislation to improve the lives of Wisconsinites, not continuing partisan stunts and gimmicks.
At the end of the day, this is an issue in the purview of the federal government and the United States Air National Guard, and we as state legislators do not have a vote in the final decision to bring F-35s to Madison. With that in mind, I am proud to continue to hear the concerns and questions raised on all sides of this issue, and to pursue and share the answers to these important inquiries with our community. I will continue the work of fighting for the community I love in the Wisconsin State Assembly, while advocating for legislation that honors our veterans and military members and works to secure jobs in our state, in addition to working to ensure high sound, air, and water quality standards. Simultaneously, I encourage the public to participate in the NEPA environmental impact statement public comment period, happening now, to ensure that our community’s voice is heard in this matter where it counts the most.”