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Travaglini: Loan may become grant

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD State Senator Stephen Buoniconti used the Basketball Hall of Fame as the back-drop for his announcement to seek re-election on March 1. While his announcement was expected, comments made by the person who introduced him at the press event were not.

After the brief remarks about Buoniconti's announcement were made, State Senate President Robert Travaglini told reporters that he would be open to converting the $52 million loan made by the state to the city of Springfield into a grant.

"I've indicated that I would like to view in that fashion," he said.

He said, "We understand that we have a responsibility [to help Springfield and will fulfill that responsibility."

He added that he doesn't know if there would be "definitive action" on more help to Springfield in the next 30 days but that there are "on-going discussions about the future."

Travaglini said that Springfield is a high priority among the leaders of the state government.

Buoniconti referred to Springfield financial plight in his speech by saying, "Springfield needs a helping hand, not a hand-out." He also referenced the 17-point plan to aid the city that was given to Mayor Charles Ryan and the Fiance Control Board.

Buoniconti's district which includes parts of Springfield, West Springfield and Chicopee he would continue trying to boost local aid for cities and towns. He noted the hall of Fame was a "perfect illustration of what can be accomplished in western Massachusetts when [state and local governments] work together."

He said recent projects with state funding to the area include the Hall of fame with $25 million of state aid, the Mass Mutual center with $66 million and the South End Bridge reconstruction with $23.5.

He said that $20 million could be lost to area hospital if the Legislature doesn't agree on a health plan to satisfy federal requirements.

A former school committee member, before he served as state representative, Buoniconti said that "public service is a joy," but acknowledged that his wife and daughter make sacrifices as well because of his schedule.