State space policy in Florida and New Mexico

Florida governor Jeb Bush yesterday unveiled a request for $55 million in state space spending to go along with recommendations of a commission examining the future role of the state in the space industry. $35 million would go to renovating buildings at Cape Canaveral to support CEV operations, in a bid to lure CEV work to the state, and the rest would go to a range of initiatives from eliminating the sales tax for space companies to the creation of a combined space industry office, Space Florida, which would be charged with carrying out other commission recommendations, including the creation of a commercial spaceport. In an editorial, Florida Today is critical of the plan because it does too little: “Gov. Jeb Bush’s funding plan is pitifully inadequate and makes us doubt the depth of his commitment. He wants to spend $55 million to get things moving, with $35 million targeted to help land the CEV at Kennedy. That total is about one-fifth of what New Mexico just spent.”

Speaking of New Mexico (which hasn’t spent anywhere close to $55 million, let alone five times that, on spaceports and related initiatives just yet), governor Bill Richardson released more details about how that state’s proposed spaceport would be funded. The state would pay for $135 million of the $225 million total cost of the facility, with most of that coming from capital projects funds over the next three years. Local gross receipts taxes would provide $30-50 million, and the state hopes to get the rest from the federal government; Sen. Pete Domenici has pledged his support for the project. The AP article states that some legislators are opposed to the project, saying the money could be better spent elsewhere, as well as expressing concerns about cost overruns. Richardson is up for reelection this year, and one Republican challenger, J. R. Damron, has criticized Richardson for supporting the spaceport, among other projects: “Friends, I am convinced there are many things the people of this state need a lot more than trains, jets and ports to send rich people into space.”

3 comments to State space policy in Florida and New Mexico

  • Brent

    Well, there will always be contrarians…

    BTW, the “republican” Damron doesn’t sound much like one, bringing in the class warfare dimension into the spaceport debate. I’m a dyed in the wool republican, and Richardson will get my vote any day in the week against this clown.

  • The Republican is correct! All that he is arguing against is boutique government spending. Government spending should be for basic infrastructure. The spaceport could perhaps be portrayed that way, but it is really a fancy Valentine’s card for Virgin Galactic.

    Virgin may not turn out to be as fertile as Richardson hopes.

  • brent

    The spaceport will have Virgin as a flagship operation, to be sure. However, the Spaceport will attract more than just Virgin. The Rocket Racing League just stood up its headquarters in Las Cruces and says it will fly races out of the Spaceport. The X-Prize Cup will be there. If rocket racing takes off, there will be dozens of small companies working around the spaceport. Also, the spaceport will likely turn into a center of field activity for the new space startups.

    Then, if many people that can afford 200K for a 2 hour flight spend a week in training and other things, they’ll want to go to Elephant Butte or Caballo Lakes out there.

    Industry, Tourism, possibly manufacturing later. Its not just Virgin, and the spaceport may well be the focus on human spaceflight for decades to come.

    Thats worth the risk