Millions could go to state’s military facilities

CHICOPEE, Mass (WWLP)–A five-year military bond bill would allow the state to borrow $177 million to spread out to the state’s six military facilities.

The measure is designed to preserve those facilities when the military looks to make cuts, but not everyone is convinced that it is money well spent.

“We’re in a down economy, so it seems like unless there’s $177 million  available for a lot of other things too, then I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Jack Lavarnway ,from Agawam, said about his thoughts on the bill.

Lavarnway told 22News would rather see such a large amount of money spread out between the military and other things like education and unemployment.

But supporters of the bill argue military bases play a key role in the overall health of the state’s economy. The Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts estimates the state’s military facilities support 46,000 jobs and bring in more than $14 billion to the economy.

Fifty-five hundred of those jobs are housed at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, which  pumped $225 million into the local economy in 2013.

It hasn’t been outlined how much of the $177 million will go to Westover, but Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe told 22News they plan to use whatever money they get to help preserve and improve the efficiency of the 75 year old buildings on the base.

“The fact that we’re going to be able to put some money towards these aging buildings, again, underscores the vitality of the base and helps to safeguard our future,” Biscoe said.

The bill passed was approved by the State Senate with a vote of 35 to 2.  It is now in the hands of Governor Deval Patrick.

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