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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Governor Baker Signs Bond Bill Authorizing $3.9 Billion to Maintain and Modernize Capital Assets

Governor Baker Signs Bond Bill Authorizing $3.9 Billion to Maintain and Modernize Capital Assets
Bill will pave way for major investments in public college and university campuses, address statewide capital needs across state agencies

WESTFIELD – Gov. Charlie Baker today participated in a ceremonial bill-signing for An Act providing for capital facility repairs and improvements for the Commonwealth, which authorizes approximately $3.9 billion to address the Commonwealth’s statewide capital needs, including higher education campuses, health and human services facilities, state office buildings, public safety facilities, and courts.

Governor Baker signed the bill on the campus of Westfield State University, which is planning a renovation of Parenzo Hall into a state-of-the-art facility that will house technology-rich classrooms and two new academic centers. The project is part of the Administration’s new strategic framework for long-term capital investments in public higher education campuses, which prioritizes projects system-wide to address the deferred maintenance backlog and to support workforce skills needs.

“Westfield State University is one of many examples of how these capital dollars will be put to good use to renovate the campus and provide state-of-the art classrooms and learning spaces for students,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “We thank the Legislature for their collaboration to authorize nearly $4 billion in spending to refurbish and improve our schools, hospitals and courthouses across the state.”

“This bond authorization will help support our approach to make the most productive use of taxpayer dollars while addressing the deferred maintenance backlog,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “A modernized Parenzo Hall will help prepare a new generation of Westfield students to join the workforce and is an important investment in the region and in the Commonwealth’s future overall.”

Parenzo Hall opened in 1956 as the first building on the current Westfield State campus and has not undergone major renovations since. The renovation project is consistent with the Administration’s approach to capital investment that emphasizes repairing and modernizing existing assets, while ensuring that spending is always maintained at an affordable level. 

“The Baker-Polito administration’s consistent approach to capital investing balances the need to maintain and upgrade the Commonwealth’s infrastructure with a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility,” Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan said. “We thank the Legislature for approving the authorization that will get many important projects off the ground and see others through to completion.”

“This plan marks a critical turning point in the Commonwealth’s approach to capital funding for public higher education. Our goal is to maximize the use and functionality of existing spaces; align programs to meet regional and statewide workforce needs; strengthen partnerships between higher education and private sector employers; and encourage more creative and efficient use of existing spaces,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “We recognize our public colleges and universities face some daunting challenges when it comes to their capital assets. Our annual investment in deferred maintenance projects will be at least three times greater than in the recent past.”

The bond bill authorizes $950 million overall for public higher education investments. The Administration’s five-year Capital Investment Plan has budgeted $190 million for capital repairs, renovations and improvements at state universities and community colleges and the University of Massachusetts system in Fiscal Year 2019, including $37.3 million in FY19 for critical repairs at all 29 campuses in the state system and $50 million for significant infrastructure projects to address potential operational and life safety issues.

In addition to Westfield State, the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Investment Plan funds major new projects at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Berkshire Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, Cape Cod Community College, and Massachusetts Bay Community College, and engages in a planning and project readiness process with additional projects at  Massasoit Community College, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Salem State University, Springfield Technical Community College, and Worcester State University. The capital plan also commits $88 million to other ongoing campus projects, including addressing the substructure at University of Massachusetts – Boston and projects at Holyoke Community College, Roxbury Community College, Northern Essex Community College, and Quinsigamond Community College.

“We are committed to funding critical repairs and capital improvements for all 29 campuses in the state’s public higher education system,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago. “This strategic investment is not only fiscally responsible and necessary, but also aligns well with the public higher education system’s goals of supporting college access, affordability and success for today’s students, and in turn the Commonwealth’s workforce and economy for decades to come.”
“This bond authorization will enable important infrastructure investments across the Commonwealth,” said Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone. “DCAMM was pleased to collaborate with our partners across state government to identify priority investments, and is particularly glad to see the strategic plan for higher education investments being implemented.”

In addition to the $950 million for higher education projects, authorizations in the bond bill signed today include:

·       $760.5 million for court facilities statewide;
·       $680 million for construction, renovations, and accessibility improvements at state office buildings;
·       $401 million for health and human services facilities (Governor Baker previously signed legislation authorizing $199 million for a new long-term care facility at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, in November 2017);
·       $500 million for public safety facilities, and an additional $20 million for public safety equipment; and
·       $235 million for energy efficiency and climate change resiliency projects at state facilities.

“This bill demonstrates the Legislature’s commitment to the Commonwealth’s assets,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “The investments authorized in this legislation will help ensure that our college campuses, health care facilities, public safety offices and other state buildings can continue to ably serve the residents of Massachusetts.”

“We sent this bill to the Governor’s desk to ensure that our constituents are provided the best services and amenities that our state has to offer,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This legislation demonstrates the Legislature’s commitment to the maintenance and improvement of the Commonwealth’s capital projects and facilities.”

Reforms included in the bill will reduce red tape and expedite repairs by increasing the deferred maintenance delegation limit for the UMass system to $10 million and streamlining procedures for smaller structural mechanical and repair projects at other state agencies. These provisions will reduce project costs and time while providing greater flexibility and efficiency for agencies and campuses.
“These bond authorizations will ensure our state facilities are well-maintained and well-equipped to best serve our residents and communities,” said Sen. Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “In particular, the investment in MassBay’s allied health facility in Framingham is an important first step in our continued work to bolster health and life sciences education in MetroWest.”
“As a graduate of Westfield State, I know how valuable the University is to students from the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire district and throughout the Commonwealth alike,” said Sen. Donald F. Humason, Jr. (R-Westfield). “I am pleased that this bond authorization will make important improvements to the infrastructure of the campus, ensuring this important resource will be available for  students for years to come.”
“I am thrilled that Westfield State University and other state colleges are receiving these funds,” said Rep. John Velis (D-Westfield). “Investing in the facilities at these schools shows the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to improving public higher education. Keeping the buildings up-to-date is essential to ensuring that our public colleges and universities remain at the forefront of technology, innovation, and creativity. These funds will have a real and substantial impact on the success of students, faculty, and the institutions as a whole.”

“People all across the Commonwealth every day visit our colleges, courthouses, and many other buildings and facilities. As a state we have an obligation to ensure that these buildings and facilities are safe, well-maintained and meeting the needs of our citizens, and that they are replaced when necessary,” said Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy). “This bond bill, a collaborative effort between the Legislature and the Governor, reflects our commitment to fulfilling this obligation."

“UMass Dartmouth is committed to making strategic investments in its facilities to best serve and prepare its students for the workforce demands of today - the Legislature included the necessary bond authorizations for such projects in the bill being signed this afternoon,” said Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral (D-New Bedford), Chair of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. “One of the university’s main priorities, a state-of-the-art science and engineering building, is now well on its way towards becoming a reality. New lab equipment and improved working spaces will enhance learning and attract young, passionate talent.”

“Westfield State University is greatly appreciative of this vital state investment to renovate Parenzo Hall into a fully functional, state-of-the-art educational facility,” saidRamon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D., president of Westfield State University. “Parenzo Hall serves as Westfield State’s hub of learning and activity. The enhancements and new programs made possible with this significant investment will enable us to further enhance accessibility to a quality public higher education in Western Massachusetts. The educational and community collaborations that will grow in this newly renovated facility will have immeasurable impact on our students, local high school students, and members of the surrounding communities and businesses far beyond our Westfield campus.”