Legislators tout economic development bill
Representative Jeffrey Sánchez voted in favor of an economic development bill that will spur the construction of smart growth housing and improve technical education in schools across Massachusetts. It will fund programs that have been integral to the development of affordable housing in Jackson Square and Mission Hill, as well as proven job training programs in Boston Public Schools.
The bill authorizes $500 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which is a one-stop shop for municipalities seeking public infrastructure funding. The influx of residents from new housing often puts stress on Boston’s roads, sidewalks, and sewer systems. MassWorks grants help the city pay for these needed upgrades. This program has been particularly successful in Jamaica Plain, where a $1.6 million MassWorks grant in 2012 helped support roadway and parking improvements in Jackson Square.
The bill also injects $45 million in capital funding to the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund. This program provides grants for environment site cleanup to encourage the development and reuse of abandoned, underutilized, and contaminated sites. Examples of Brownfields sites in the district are Jackson Square and the recently opened María Sánchez House.
“It’s incredibly difficult to finance affordable housing. This bill commits needed resources to supporting our communities, so all of our neighbors can continue to call Massachusetts home,” said Representative Sánchez. “This bill will have a tangible impact in our district, as well. We had an intense community process in Jackson Square and this funding could help that vision become a reality.”
During debate, an amendment was adopted that will enhance the community investment tax credit (CITC), a crucial funding stream for community development corporations. Current law states that if a CDC does not use 95% of its CITC allotments from the past 3 years, then it cannot be eligible for more credits. Since projects can take several years, this new law protects CDCs from losing the vital funding stream by giving the state discretion as to whether CDCs are eligible for more credits.
In addition to providing new funds for affordable housing development, the bill prepares students to succeed in our rapidly-evolving economy. It authorizes $70.6 million to help schools develop career technical education and training programs, as well as purchase modern training equipment for facilities like machine shops, computer labs, and health care programs.
Sánchez supported $2.4 million in capital funding for early college high school programs to encourage the successful partnerships between school districts and institutions of higher education. Boston Public Schools has already leveraged the many colleges and universities in the city so students have the opportunity to earn free college credits toward an associate degree. This funding will ensure students continue to make the most of this successful program.
The bill also establishes a college savings tax credit that would allow families to claim a tax deduction on college savings. Other investments in the bill include $6 million for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program to support access to healthy food and a new angel investor tax credit for newly formed start-ups to be administered through the life sciences incentive program.
“Our economic development legislation is about creating jobs and appropriate training opportunities so all of our students succeed. It will provide meaningful opportunities for our children no matter where they’re from.”
After being passed in the House the bill now heads to the Senate.