Legislators push for loan to support space tourism

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsThe request is probably too late to be included in the governor’s May budget revision, but could be one of the items negotiated for inclusion in the final budget, George Runner said. But a consultant to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee refers to the loan as “millions for a billionaire.” “The proposed research facility would be occupied by Virgin Galactic and its partners for research and development activities,” consultant Jennifer Gress wrote. “In effect, the state would be subsidizing the construction of a building to house operations for a company whose owner has a net worth in the billions.” Mojave Airport General Manager Stu Witt called the consultant’s analysis a disservice to California. “In the first place, the money is not going to Richard Branson – period,” Witt said. “It’s going to the East Kern Airport District. With that money, we will build infrastructure.” In their letter, Ashburn and Runner said traditional funding mechanisms that are available to other local governments such as general obligation bonds and revenue bonds are not feasible because of the small, rural nature of the airport. The senators also wrote that the state is facing intense competition for the space tourism industry. “For now, we have an advantage over these other locations – we have existing infrastructure in place at the Mojave Airport,” the senators wrote. “But if we want to continue to be the leader in this new industry, California must invest in the airport.” In addition to seeking the funding through the budget process, Ashburn has authored Senate Bill 1671 to authorize the loan. That bill is on hold in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Ashburn calls the request to assist the airport district a “modest loan to help keep this 21st century industry here where it began.” Witt emphasized the request is for a loan, not a grant. Witt said other states are competing to grab a share of the emerging space tourism industry. [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MOJAVE – Antelope Valley legislators are trying to get into the state budget an $11 million loan to help Mojave Airport build a hangar complex and terminal for space tourism. The 40,000-square-foot hangar and a 50,000-square-foot terminal with associated hangars for preflight training are expected to be used first by British tycoon Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which is working with Mojave’s Burt Rutan to build a fleet of suborbital spacecraft to carry passengers paying $200,000 each. “We have to be competitive with other states to maintain this unique business opportunity in California,” said state Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster. “In return, we get our money back and hopefully we can be attractive for this industry.” Runner and state Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, co-authored a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to include the loan for the East Kern Airport District, which operates the Mojave Airport. A similar letter was sent by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster. last_img

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