By Bob Katzen
The House 143-1, approved an economic development package that would authorize $50 million for a grant program targeting coastal communities and create jobs in the maritime economy sector; $300 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program which provides a one-stop shop for municipalities and other eligible public entities seeking public infrastructure funding; and $12.5 million in capital dollars for MassVentures to continue providing competitive grants to Massachusetts-based companies commercializing technologies.
The package also includes several tax breaks including $20 million in credits for any projects designated as an extraordinary economic development opportunity; tax credits to businesses to occupy vacant storefronts in downtown areas; and establishes a $2.5 million Apprenticeship Tax Credit program for apprenticeships in computer occupations, healthcare and the manufacturing industry.
Supporters said the bill would be a real shot in the arm for the state by stimulating the economy, creating jobs and making Massachusetts friendlier to business.
“This legislation encompasses a number of strategic policy measures designed to promote economic opportunity across the Commonwealth and advance Massachusetts’ competitiveness in innovative and emerging industries,” said Rep. Joe Wagner (D-Chicopee). “This bill reflects a thoughtful approach by the House to strengthen the state’s key sectors through an allocation of state resources for infrastructure upgrades, workforce development and job creation.”
Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville), the lone opponent, said there were some good programs in the package, but they were packaged with big tax benefits for the already-wealthy, making the whole bill became too unpalatable for her.
“The federal government passed a tax bill putting $1.3 trillion in the hands of the wealthiest Americans, with the premise that they would invest this windfall in economic development – so they should,” said Provost. “This bill asks Massachusetts taxpayers to fund a package of new tax credits for investors, when many of those same taxpayers will suffer financial loss from the federal tax bill’s $10,000 cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction.”