Despite a rocky road, $1 million requested by Delegate Rob Bloxom for a new hangar at the Melfa Airport made it into final passage of the state budget.
“It’s been a long and hard fought battle, but with the help of Senator Lewis, our persistence finally came to fruition in obtaining the funding for the hangar,” said Delegate Rob Bloxom.
The funding was taken out of the budget twice by Eastern Shore native Governor Ralph Northam, only to be put back in twice by Delegate Bloxom and Senator Lynwood Lewis.
Governor Northam froze all new spending over fears of COVID-19 derailing revenues, but when estimates came in better than originally expected, the he called a Special Session to iron out the budget.
Delegate Bloxom’s budget request for the hangar was intended to bring overflow UAV business from Wallops to Melfa. Currently, all overflow goes north to Salisbury, which has the needed infrastructure.
The initial request was removed from the budget by Governor Northam, one of only three budget edits handed down. Delegate Bloxom was able to convince the House Appropriations Committee of the project’s merit, as did Senator Lewis with Senate conferees. When Governor Northam handed down his second set of budget vetoes, this time two in total, the Melfa Airport was once again among them.
Lewis went to work in the Senate again and convinced the Chamber to kill the Governor’s amendment in a 30-9 vote.
“I’m very happy that the Governor decided to let this remain in the budget,” said Lewis. “I think this provides a real opportunity for economic growth for the Eastern Shore.”