Today, Governor Charlie Baker signed\u00a0An Act providing for immediate capital improvement needs of the Commonwealth\u00a0that increases bond authorization\u00a0by $244 million\u00a0to support initiatives across the Commonwealth including construction of a new long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers\u2019 Home and expanded access to broadband in Western Massachusetts.\n\n\u201cThis bill funds critical projects across the Commonwealth, including the Last Mile broadband project and money for the Chelsea Soldiers\u2019 Home renovation project,\u201d\u00a0said Governor Charlie Baker. \u00a0\u201cWe thank the Legislature for bringing us one step closer to updating the Chelsea Soldiers\u0027 Home for our veterans and their families and to providing high speed internet for the remaining unserved towns in Western Massachusetts.\u201d\n\n\u201cIncreasing the authorization for broadband services will help continue the work the administration has done to increase access to high speed internet in all communities in the Commonwealth,\u201d\u00a0said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.\u00a0\u201cThe administration encourages the Legislature to take action once the new session begins on the remaining bond requests before them, including funding for municipal grant programs\u00a0\u00a0 for IT equipment, ADA adaptations, and other local priorities.\u201d\n\nThe bond legislation signed today includes $199 million to replace the long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers\u2019 Home, which is expected to be partially reimbursed by the federal government pending final approval from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill also directs the administration to study the long-term needs of the Soldiers\u2019 Home in Holyoke.\n\n\u201cThe Soldiers\u2019 Home in Chelsea provides comprehensive, quality health care and residential services with honor, dignity and respect to the Commonwealth\u2019s veterans,\u201d\u00a0said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.\u00a0\u201cThe upgrades to the Soldiers\u2019 Home \u00a0ensure that the physical plant meets modern health care requirements commensurate with the needs of our veterans.\u201d\u00a0\n\nThe legislation also includes $45 million for broadband infrastructure, to provide new capital funding to hasten efforts to close the broadband gap for unserved or, Last Mile, communities.\n\nIn\u00a0May 2016, the Baker-Polito Administration launched a new Last Mile leadership team\u00a0and a new framework to accelerate implementation of broadband projects in unserved or underserved communities. This effort has supported multiple efforts to expand broadband coverage in Western and North Central Massachusetts. To date, 42 out of the 54 unserved or partially-served Last Mile towns have a working project that has been supported by the Commonwealth through either a direct grant for a municipal-led Last Mile project, or a solution from a private provider.\n\nToday\u2019s new authorization will further drive these efforts, critical to economic development, education and quality of life in unserved communities.\n\n\u201cWith this new funding, the administration is going the extra mile to ensure we continue to build the momentum we have in closing the broadband gap for communities in Western and Central Massachusetts,\u201d\u00a0said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.\u00a0\u201cHigh-speed, broadband internet is a necessity in today\u2019s internet-connect world, and we will continue to work with municipalities to pursue collaborative solutions that best fit the unique needs of our unserved communities.\u201d\n\n\u201cWe are pleased to see authorization for the replacement of the Quigley Hospital at Chelsea Soldiers\u2019 Home passed, which was proposed in our capital budget plan,\u201d said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. \u201cBy leveraging the use of significant federal resources to build the new facility, we optimize the value of the Commonwealth\u2019s capital investment in this project.\u201d\n\nOn May 31, Governor Baker filed\u00a0legislation\u00a0to address immediate capital needs statewide, including $950 million for higher education projects, $880 million for construction, renovations, and accessibility improvements at state office buildings, $700 million for health and human services facilities, $550 million for public safety facilities and $375 million for court facilities. While the legislation signed today includes authorization for the Chelsea Soldiers\u2019 Home, several items from this bill remain pending.