Where Does the Bond Money Go?

As the legislative session ended last month, the focus was on bond bills.

And how, you asked, have we spent our bond money in the past? Well, as ranking Republican on the Committee for Long Term Debt and Capital Expense, I can tell you how we spent that money. And it added up to a lot of money.

In broad strokes, we built prisons, schools and libraries. We paid for improvements in mass transportation. We protected our natural assets and we renovated public housing.

More specifically, we increased the number of prison beds statewide from 4,800 in 1991 to more than 8,000 today. We built a new state correctional facility, worth $105-million, in Shirley—the first maximum security facility built since the 1960s.

And we spent $48 million for the Registry of Motor Vehicles data center and the Statewide Telecommunications System. Meaning, it’s easier for you to get or renew a driver’s license and that state troopers can communicate across the state.

Massachusetts manages 50,752 public housing units. And a lot of them need repairs and renovations. During the past 10 years, bond money provided $270 for renovations in more than 70 percent of those units, at an average cost of $7,346 per unit.

Bond money also provided $432-million to acquire 118,000 acres of land. I note, as a sidebar, that Massachusetts has the ninth largest state forest and park system in the country, despite being the second most densely populated state.

Bond money also helped clean up 3,221 hazardous waste sites in the state. More More More

Hahn Col for 8/10 – Bond Bills –page 2 of 3

Boston particularly benefited from Environmental bond money, with a 10-year, $631-million program to provide a back-up tunnel (in case the aging Hultman Aqueduct fails) to transport 80 percent of the city’s drinking water. Work should be completed in another three years.

Mass transit in Boston also benefited, with $3.6-billion spend for rehabbing transit facilities, safety improvements, station modernization, increased parking, track upgrades, new buses and rail cars for the MBTA.

Mass Highway used bond money to reconstruct or repair 1,337 out of 4,417 municipal and state bridges over the past seven years. The highway department resurfaced 4,500 lane miles of state highway—that’s more than half of all roadways.

Funding for local road and bridge projects also received bond money, at an increase from $24 million in 1991 to $138 million by the end of the decade.

And, don’t forget the central artery project—the Big Dig. At a total cost of $14-billion, the project is more than two thirds done.

Bond money is also going to Logan Airport—the 11th busiest airport in the country—to upgrade and replace virtually all of the facilities there.

The state expended $1.5-billion for payments to help build elementary and secondary schools. Payments for these projects increased from $127 million in 1991 to $361-million this year, and they’ll approach $500-million by 2005.

Of the 1,899 public schools in the state, 412 were built or renovated in the 1990s.

Five campuses of the University of Massachusetts received about $425-million in bond money over the past decade to construct and improve buildings. The State College Building Authority spent $15-million to improve the majority of the 75 resident halls within the state system.

Local public libraries received bond money, too. The state awarded grants totaling $135-million to 156 of the 371 public libraries in the state during the last decade. More More More

Hahn Col for 8/10 – Bond Bills –page 3 of 3The state built seven new courthouse facilities with bond money, the Division of Capital Asset Management undertook 506 state projects in the last decade—22 new ones, 71 renovations, and more than 400 repair projects.

So now, you know how we spend bond money. And that’s just the highlights. There are a lot more details of course, but this gives you a general idea about why bonding—and our bond rating—are so important.

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