Lawmakers to consider resolution in support of F-35 jets at Truax Field

Wisconsin State Journal  |  October 8, 2019  |  Riley Vetterkind

Lawmakers to consider resolution in support of F-35 jets at Truax Field 

State lawmakers are set to consider a resolution this week expressing support for bringing F-35 jets to Madison’s Truax Field.

So far, only one Madison-area lawmaker, Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, is listed as a co-sponsor. The Senate is slated to vote on the resolution Tuesday.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said she will vote against the measure when it comes to the Assembly on Thursday, saying the added noise the jets are expected to bring could “ruin” residential areas close to the airport.

“These planes do not belong in a dense residential area,” Taylor said. 

The resolution, which “supports basing the next generation of freedom fighting aircraft in the state of Wisconsin,” is purely symbolic and does not have any legal effect. 

Other local lawmakers contacted by the State Journal either declined to take a position on the resolution or did not respond to a request for comment.

They are Sens. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point, and Fred Risser, D-Madison, and Reps. Melissa Sargent, Lisa Subeck and Shelia Stubbs, all Madison Democrats. 

One of the resolution’s co-authors, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said bringing the F-35s to Madison would have numerous benefits.

“The economic impact of the F-35 would be a huge benefit to Wisconsin,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “On top of that, it allows Wisconsin to play a role in housing the next generation of fighter jet that puts the American military at an advantage over our adversaries around the world. This is a tremendous opportunity for our state.”

The resolution’s co-author in the Assembly is Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc.

The base at Truax Field, located at the Dane County Regional Airport, is one of two preferred sites for a squadron of 20 F-35 jets. Supporters say landing the jets would not only add dozens of new jobs but ensure the continued viability of the base, which generates more than $99 million in economic activity and supports more than 1,650 in-state jobs, according to a 2015 University of Wisconsin-Extension report.

Miller told the State Journal the new jets are needed to keep the 115th Fighter Wing flying. The base’s current fleet of F-16s are among the oldest in operation.

“There needs to be a functional mission for (Truax) to fulfill,” said Miller, a former military pilot who spent 30 years with the Air National Guard. “I think the F-35 assures the base at Madison will have a functional mission.”