The Senate Press Release regarding the Military Bond Bill appears below. I was pleased to support the bill, which passed with only two dissenting votes. Opponents expressed concerns about the overall balance of military vs. peaceful governmental expenditures in the country. This bill authorizes a relatively modest ($177 million) multi-year spending program for economic development investments related to not only base expansion and preservation, but also, base closing and realignment. I saw this bill as essentially a local development bill — it won’t affect America’s force posture or fundamental investment choices.
The bill is very similar to a bill previously passed by the House, so it should face smooth sailing from here.
Senate Passes $177 Million Military Bond Bill
BOSTON – The Senate on Thursday passed a bill authorizing $177 million in capital spending over the next five years to make improvements at and expand the state’s military installations, including repairing the runway at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.
“This legislation represents a strong commitment to the growth and viability of the military bases in the Commonwealth,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “In addition to national security, each base plays a critical role in the overall health of our economy and their importance must not be overlooked. Through the investments in this bond bill, we will protect thousands of jobs, encourage new research and continue to protect the future of our bases.”
“This important measure encourages strategic investments that will protect existing jobs in Massachusetts and help create new employment,” said Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton), Chair of the Senate Committee on Bonding, State Assets, and Expenditures. “This bill also brings additional federal dollars to our state and helps prepare for future adaptive civilian use for a portion of these facilities.”
“This bill is really about protecting our military bases and maintaining thousands of important jobs in the Commonwealth,” Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), Chair of Senate Ways and Means, said. “These investments will strengthen our commitment to our armed forces and support the already significant contributions that our bases make to the state and regional economy.”
This legislation requires MassDevelopment to oversee and implement all improvement and expansion projects funded by the bonds authorized in this bill. In addition, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance is required to submit a report prior to the execution of any improvement or expansion project and to submit bi-annual progress reports.
To continue efforts to advance the state’s military installations, this bill continues the work of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force that was created in 2012. The Task Force, to be chaired by the Governor, will work with representatives from the military, business community and the government to bring new programs and innovative solutions on each base.
This bill also does the following:
• Authorizes MassDevelopment to enter into agreements to provide utility services;
• Authorizes the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to convey a railroad right-of-way located in Mashpee, Bourne and Sandwich to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; and,
• Authorizes DCAMM to convey land or infrastructure owned by the Commonwealth on the Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich to MassDevelopment for $1.
In addition, this bill de-authorizes spending accounts for the Hanscom Air Force Base and the Natick Soldier Systems Center expansion projects that were approved by the Legislature in 2005.
According to the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, military installations contribute more than $14.2 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy and support more than 46,000 jobs.
The Senate and House will now produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the governor.