The Governor of Massachusetts has announced an updated five-year strategic investment plan that includes funding for infrastructure improvement to encourage economic growth. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…
Governor Deval Patrick’s FY 2013 to 2017 Capital Investment Plan calls for billions of public dollars to be invested in transportation, housing, higher education, and infrastructure to boost long-term economic development.
Scott Jordan, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Administration and Finance said that starting this year, the plan calls for continued investment in the state’s public colleges.
Already announced for Berkshire Community College was over 21 million dollars for campus renovations and repairs. Last week 298 million was announced for the state’s community colleges. $607 million was announced for the UMass system, with UMass Amherst receiving $85 million to help construct a new building for the physical sciences.
Steve Goodwin, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at Umass Amherst, says that the demand for science education is up, with admissions to the College of Natural Sciences up 8% this year. Goodwin said that investment in science programs at public colleges play a key role in economic development.
Goodwin mentioned education in clean energy as an important new area of study.
Also included in the five-year plan is $200 million in Chapter 90 funding, which provides communities the resources to make repairs to their roads and bridges. 4th Berkshire District State Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli said that the Chapter 90 amount for FY 2013 is the same as last year, which was an improvement over the year before. However, he mentioned that $300 million would be a more adequate amount. Pignatelli said that regardless of amount, the approval process for projects needs to be streamlined in the future.
Pignatelli did call the Chapter 90 aid a “lifeline” and that many of the rural roads in his district are in “deplorable shape.” In the future, he said he’d like the Commonwealth to be more creative with funding for local infrastructure repairs.
Also included in the Governor’s investment plan is $180 million for public housing, $55 million for investment in the life sciences, $41.8 million for construction of public libraries, and $14.6 million towards IT improvements in health care containment measures.
Scott Jordan says it’s important the plan will bring improvements to all areas of Massachusetts while remaining affordable.
More information on the plan can be found here.