HOUSE OKAYS $199 MILLION FOR NEW CHELSEA SOLDIERS HOME
By Michael P. Norton and Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 8, 2017....The House on Wednesday approved a $244 million bond bill that directs $199 million to be spent on the design and construction of a new 154-bed Soldier's Home in Chelsea.
According to the bill (H 4015), the community living center for long-term care for veterans will replace Quigley Memorial Hospital. Bonds would be issued under the Chelsea Soldiers' Home Capital Improvement Act of 2017.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Wednesday that the funding for the Chelsea Soldier's Home was separated out of a larger capital infrastructure borrowing bill that could surface next week in order to expedite its approval at the urging of Gov. Charlie Baker.
"Unless we complete that appropriation before Dec. 1, we lose millions of dollars of federal aid, so we want to make sure that we get that done, and that was described to me by the governor," DeLeo said after huddling with House Democrats ahead of Wednesday's session.
The so-called immediate needs bond bill also includes a $45 million authorization for the "Last Mile" project to extend broadband access in western Massachusetts, "which we need to do quickly as well," DeLeo said.
DeLeo said he expects the House next week to consider a second bond bill (H 4018) during the final scheduled formal sessions for 2017.
The new long-term care center at Chelsea Soldiers Home will replace Quigley Memorial Hospital. [Photo: Sam Doran/File/SHNS]
State reps may be eyeing that bill as opportunity to load up a long-term borrowing bill with pet projects ahead of the holiday break and 2018 elections.
Amendments to that bill, the text of which is not yet available, are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
The immediate needs bond bill was reported, in part, from a bill (H 3730) that Gov. Charlie Baker filed in May. The House Bonding Committee released the full $3.5 billion borrowing bill to the Ways and Means Committee on Oct. 23.
Baker two weeks ago said the capital bond bill was one of two borrowing measures he would like to see on his desk before the Legislature breaks for the holidays on Nov. 15.
"We have a couple of bond bills, one's the housing bond bill and one's the DCAM bill, both of which have funding for new projects and programming, but also have some important elements associated with deferred maintenance, and it would be terrific if those could get done before the break," Baker told reporters.
The capital bond that Baker filed included funding for improvements to state-owned facilities such as courts and college buildings.
"I do worry if some roof caves in in the middle of winter on some college campus and we don't have the authorization," Baker said.
Serving the working press since 1894