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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Votes for State's Five-Year Capital Spending Plan: $3.14 Billion in Investments Authorized in General Government Spending Bond
July 31, 2008

Boston- The Massachusetts Senate voted 38-0 on Wednesday evening to engross the General Governmental Spending Bond Bill.  This legislation authorizes necessary funding for targeted investments to the Commonwealth’s capital facilities, based on the Patrick Administration’s five-year capital plan. 


“We’ve put into place a targeted strategy to strengthen Commonwealth facilities and infrastructure,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield). “Massachusetts citizens will be able to access basic government functions and services due to this capital plan. This bond authorizes capital spending to support local economic growth, invest in well-maintained buildings and facilities, modern and secure information technology systems and state-of-the-art equipment for our state agencies, facilities and programs.”


The Senate’s General Government Spending Bond contains three authorizations that will greatly impact the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Senate District, which were secured and supported by Senator Downing:


$500,000 - Restoration of the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite, Great Barrington

This $500,000 bond authorization will assist in the development of a memorial to the life and works of W.E.B. Du Bois through a complete restoration of his childhood home in Great Barrington.  The Du Bois homestead, owned by UMass Amherst and maintained by the Friends of the Du Bois Homesite, is registered as a National Historic Landmark and is an anchor site on the Upper Valley Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail.  W.E.B. Du Bois is best known as a gifted African-American writer and a pivotal figure in the struggle for civil rights in America.  Restoration of the Du Bois homestead represents a public-private partnership to ensure that generations of visitors will be able to experience an important time in American history through the literary works of this remarkable author and advocate.


$100,000 - Renovations for the Pittsfield District Court

Downing secured a $100,000 authorization for necessary upgrades to the Pittsfield District Court, which is the only court in western Massachusetts without central air conditioning, making the facility uncomfortable for the public and those who work in its chambers.  In order to combat the heat during the summer months, it is necessary to open the windows and use fans which together create substantial ambient noise in the courtrooms, resulting in difficulties for the jury to follow court proceedings, which adversely affects the quality of justice.


$50,000,000 - Cultural Facilities Fund

The Cultural Facilities Fund was established as part of a major economic stimulus bill passed by the Legislature in 2006.  The General Governmental Spending Bond re-capitalizes the Cultural Facilities Fund with a $50 million authorization which will be disbursed via grant awards for the development, expansion and improvements for cultural assets throughout the Commonwealth, a great boon for the creative economy in the western part of the state.


The General Government Spending Bond is now in the House of Representatives for consideration and final enactment.




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