Upon taking office in 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration inherited a public infrastructure that had suffered a generation of underinvestment. Our roads and bridges, public colleges and university campuses, state hospitals and buildings all faced a maintenance backlog in the billions of dollars. And when the recession began in 2008, our ability to finance much-needed investments was challenged, even as the need for jobs increased.
The Patrick-Murray Administration’s capital investment plan is designed to reverse decades of underinvestment, create jobs now and set the stage for a better economic future. This is accomplished by investing in public higher education, supporting our innovation industries and strengthening our infrastructure. At the same time, we have responsibly constrained the Commonwealth’s borrowing through the first-ever Debt Affordability Policy.
In this, the sixth Patrick-Murray Administration five-year capital investment plan, we are pleased to report on the accomplishments of the last five years and our planned investments over the next five years.
We have invested in higher education, with projects currently underway or completed at 26 of the 29 public campuses, including laboratory facilities at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, Bridgewater State, Fitchburg State, Framingham State and Mass College of Liberal Arts; libraries at UMass Dartmouth, Salem State and Mass Maritime Academy; and classrooms at UMass Amherst and UMass Boston.
We have also strengthened our commitment to community colleges. In this plan, we announce five new community college projects which provide students with strong educational foundations and relevant workforce training opportunities that will prepare them for success in the local job market and/or further academic study.
We have supported our innovation industries, continuing Governor Patrick’s commitment to support the life sciences with $500 million of capital investment over ten years, including completion of the Sherman Center at UMass Medical School, UMass Dartmouth’s biomanufacturing facility and UMass Lowell’s Emerging Technology and Innovation Center, supporting cutting-edge nanotech research.
We have strengthened our infrastructure by repairing or replacing aging state facilities, roads and bridges, and we are working to provide broadband communication to the 123 cities and towns in Massachusetts that previously did not have high-speed internet.
Through the nation-leading Accelerated Bridge Program, we have reduced the number structurally-deficient bridges by almost 20%, and 17,000 jobs created have been created throughout the state. In this plan, we apply the same approach to energy efficiency at state facilities.
The new Accelerated Energy Program is a three-year initiative to “green” 700 sites in 700 working days encompassing over 4,000 state buildings throughout the Commonwealth. This program will create thousands of clean energy job opportunities across the Commonwealth and save over $40 million annually through the conservation of energy and water.
The Patrick-Murray Administration’s capital investments have been ambitious and responsible. Through the state’s first-ever Debt Affordability Policy, we have limited new borrowing in a manner that has allowed us to both increase our level of investment, while improving the state’s credit. Massachusetts’ bond ratings are currently Aa1/AA+/AA+ by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch, respectively – the highest ratings in the Commonwealth’s history.
Over the last five years, the Patrick-Murray Administration has done much to address the Commonwealth’s capital needs, improving the quality of life for our residents, the state’s economy, and the efficiency of our government. In this document, we present our plan for the next five years. Our plan continues to be ambitious, responsible, and focused on creating jobs now and in the future. While this plan represents the best use of the Commonwealth’s limited financial capacity, reversing decades of underinvestment and neglect will take more effort. Over the coming months, the Patrick-Murray Administration looks forward to working with the citizens of the Commonwealth and the Legislature on implementing this capital plan, and charting a path toward a sustainable future.