By Bob Katzen
The Senate 33-4, approved a bill that would authorize $462 million in bonds for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund with an emphasis on capital grants to increase diversity and opportunity in the Bay State life sciences and biotech industries. The bill is aimed at continued job growth through capital grants that advance education, workforce development, early-stage company growth through spaces dedicated to life sciences companies, advanced bio-manufacturing and scientific innovation.
Provisions include $47 million for an integrated biotechnology and precision manufacturing research and training facility at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; $12 million for grants to community colleges or vocational-technical schools that collaborate with the industry; and an increase from $25 million to $30 million annually in the statutory cap on the Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program.
“The biotech and life sciences industry has been a key component of Massachusetts’ economic progress over the last ten years,” said Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), who led the charge for the bill’s passage. “The investments in this industry that we as a state made ten years ago have helped it flourish here in Massachusetts, and now we can’t afford to lose our national edge. Imagine the lost potential if we allow the next vaccine breakthrough, the next big discovery, the next lifesaving drug, to be developed elsewhere. This bill maintains our leadership in this critical industry and offers us tremendous opportunity to expand economic growth across our state.”
“We truly have a biotech and life sciences supercluster here in Massachusetts, and this bill will ensure we continue to grow and lead the way,” said Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “People across the nation and the world depend upon the cutting-edge medical devices, pharmaceuticals and research under development here, and our investments today in innovation, education and workforce training are critical for our continued growth and success.”
“We should not single out a thriving industry for special subsidies,” said Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Economic development is better served by investing in transportation, affordable housing and education, which benefit all businesses as well as all residents. Tax credits and bond payments are legal commitments in every budget, and crowd out priorities like school aid, human services and adequate pay for preschool educators and home care workers.
“Legislators voted against the bio tech bond bill because it would expand a corporate tax break not necessary for the expansion of the life sciences industry, at a time when the state continues to under-invest in public education, transportation, healthcare, and human services,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).