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General Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps (Photo courtesy: SDMAC)

San Diego Military Advisory Council Hosts Commandant of the Marine Corps at Monthly Breakfast

San Diego CA— For more than 14 years, the San Diego Military Advisory Council has worked to strengthen the bond between the military and the community they serve here in America’s Finest City.  On Wednesday, the organization helped to advance communication between the military and all San Diegans by hosting an open forum with General Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, at their monthly breakfast.

”We were honored to have General Neller speak at our monthly breakfast,” said Randy Bogle, SDMAC’s Executive Director.  “His statement about not manning equipment but equipping Marines really resonated with me.  The men and women who serve in our Marine Corps and the families that support them are central to America and our ability to preserve national defense.”

Neller, who succeeded General Joseph Dunford in 2015, served as an infantry officer at all levels during his career, which has spanned more than 40 years.  He has deployed to Iraq, Somalia and Panama, in addition to leading Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Central Command.

“I learned how to be an officer here,” said Neller of his initial tour in San Diego as a junior officer.  “To understand where to go, you have to understand where you’ve been.”

The Marine Corps maintains eight installations and two training ranges in the west, which enable Marine Corps air and ground forces to develop and sustain operational readiness.  With a unique diversity of ecosystems including beaches, bluffs, mesas, canyons, mountains and Southern California’s only free flowing river, San Diego’s installations are unmatched and irreplaceable assets for national security.

Neller said, “You can never be too ready.  The Marine Corps is responsible to be ready […] when the nation is least ready.  Readiness is what we are all about.”

Local businesses and employees are key partners to build the level a readiness necessary to posture for future world events.  These individuals and companies serve both directly and indirectly, helping to bolster San Diego’s economy.

“The Marine Corps plays a vital role in San Diego,” Bogle said.  “Camp Pendleton alone has been the largest North County employer for more than 60 years.”

In addition to hosting monthly breakfasts, where local and visiting military leaders discuss topics of common interest to the military, local businesses, and political representatives, SDMAC publishes an annual Military Economic Impact Study with the assistance of Point Loma Nazarene University.

According to the2017 study, authored by Dr. Lynn Reaser, San Diego is home to the largest population of active duty military in the world, which creates a ‘super cluster’ spanning across a number of industries including scientific research, innovation, healthcare, manufacturing and tourism.  More than one-fifth of San Diego’s economy relies on this super cluster.

While this contribution is extremely significant to the health of San Diego’s economy, Bogle believes there is more that the State of California could do that would have an even greater impact.  With Reaser’s help, SDMAC released a new report this year entitled “Ending the Taxation of Military Retiree Pay in California,” which revealed that the elimination of state tax on military retiree pay in 2016 would have led to an increase in state and local revenue of $18.4 million.

Bogle said, “The results of this study, which was produced in partnership with the California Governor’s Military Council, demonstrates the potential for additional economic growth benefitting all Californians.”

In an effort to bring about this change, Assemblymember Bill Brough proposed AB 2394 for consideration this year.  However, the bill was held under submission and thereby did not go to the California State Assembly for consideration.

California is one of only nine states, including Georgia, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, to fully tax military retirement pay.  Ten states partially tax military retiree pensions and 31 states fully exempt military retiree pay from taxation.  By joining these 31 states, California would likely see additional economic benefits beyond state and local government revenue growth to include additional tax on post military retirement careers, gross state product, and total business sales.

For more information on SDMAC and its various initiatives, visit www.sdmac.org.

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