Eastern Shore native and Virginia’s embattled Governor Ralph Northam has vetoed a budget amendment for the Melfa Airport, supported by both Senator Lynwood Lewis and Delegate Rob Bloxom, twice.
The budget amendment would have provided $1 million to construct a hangar at the airport to catch overflow aircraft traffic from Wallops.
The expansion of unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV) flights at Wallops has provided opportunities for private contractors to work with the Navy and NASA. Currently, the only hangar available in the area is in Salisbury and the business, and revenue, is going to Maryland, instead of Virginia. Maryland provides no funding to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
“Some people can’t afford to use the Wallops runway and they could be using Melfa,” said Delegate Rob Bloxom. “This would help smaller companies get in with the Navy.”
Governor Northam froze all new spending in March due to COVID-19. Most of it was unfroze when the General Assembly returned for the Special Session. Delegate Bloxom’s amendment passed the House and Senate, but when Governor Northam handed down his three vetoes, the Melfa hangar project was among them.
Senator Lewis and Delegate Bloxom went to work and convinced the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate’s conferees of the benefits of the project to the Commonwealth and got it back into the budget again, only to be vetoed again by Governor Northam, this time one of only two total vetoes.
“I’m very concerned about it. I don’t understand why it made it through the appropriations process but then was removed,” said Senator Lynwood Lewis. “We’ll work with Delegate Bloxom to restore it.”
Delegate Bloxom agreed.
“I am disappointed Governor Northam didn’t see the importance of this project,” said Bloxom. “I see it as a real opportunity to create jobs and bring money to the Shore.”
A request for comment from the Governor’s office Friday morning was not returned.