COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS MASSACHUSETTS SENATE STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133-1053 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Seth RolbeinDate: July 19, 2012 508-367-6044 Senate Targets Economic Development and Job Creation; Approves Key Infrastructure Investments BOSTON – The Senate today passed legislation that will assist small businesses and the manufacturing industry, invest in research and development projects and strengthen and reform workforce development efforts, Senator Wolf (D-Harwich) announced. As the Senate Chair of Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Committee, Senator Wolf has been pushing for the state to invest in more job and skills training for workers, unemployed and underemployed people. To address this need, the bill includes $5 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and allows the Fund to spend some of its money on grants that address the gap between skills held by workers and the skills needed by employers, including an amendment sponsored by Senator Wolf to make training available for older workers. According to the National Skills Coalition, middle skills jobs, which require more than high school but less than a four-year degree, make up the largest part of the Massachusetts’ labor market. “The bill we passed today helps to streamline many parts of doing business in Massachusetts while simultaneously helping workers with new investments in workforce training, investments in new manufacturing programs, and by giving communities new tools for innovative development,” said Senator Wolf. “I was proud of the initiatives that were included for workers, particularly job training monies, supporting our creative economy by relaxing the burden on independent contractors, and the senate’s strong support to community development partnerships. I am thrilled that as part of this package we were also able to pass the expanded bottle bill which for many has been a high priority for years. This was a positive step in our continuing efforts to support economic recovery.” In an effort to spark new innovations in the Commonwealth, the bill includes $50 million in funding for the Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund to support matching grants for research and development projects sponsored by universities and research institutions. All eligible projects must secure $3 for every $1 of state money committed. To provide businesses with some additional breathing room as they work to overcome this challenging economic environment, the bill establishes a tax credit equal to the minimum corporate excise tax of $456 for corporations for the corporation’s first three tax years. In January, the Legislature reduced the corporate excise tax to 8 percent from 8.25 percent. The bill also extends the Brownfield’s Tax Credit for two additional years and increases the cap on the cap on the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit to $55 million per year from $50 million. To promote economic development, the bill establishes and includes $1 million for a community investment grant program that will support community development corporations and community support organizations. Grants will be based on community investment plans and range from $50,000 to $150,000. Senator Wolf was also a co-sponsor to an amendment which allows local residents and businesses to work with Community Development Corporations to develop high quality, multi-year business plans. A percentage of the tax credits will be allocated for rural areas and Gateway Cities. In addition, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development will be required to create a website to provide information on public and private resources available to small businesses and to promote small businesses in Massachusetts. The bill also includes $250,000 in grant funding to the Small Business Association of New England’s layoff aversion program to prevent business closure and employee displacement at manufacturing companies. The legislation creates the Energy Conservation Loan Program that will enable MassDevelopment to issue up to $1 billion in triple-A rated bonds to provide low-cost funding for commercial, industrial, retail and mixed-use property owners to make energy efficiency improvements. The bill also does the following:
- Establishes a sales tax holiday for August 11 and 12, 2012.
- Includes $2 million in funding for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to provide paid internships to technology startups and innovative companies and to establish an entrepreneur and startup venture capital mentoring program;
- Equalizes quarterly tax payments for corporations and authorizes a transfer of $200 million to the General Fund from the Stabilization Fund, with a reimbursement requirement by December 31, 2014, to account for cash flow shortfalls as a result of the equalized corporate tax payments;
- Requires the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development to establish an Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, which would be responsible for developing and implementing the commonwealth’s manufacturing agenda;
- The bill requires the transfer of $4 million from one-time tax settlements to the Smart Growth Housing Trust fund to support projects developed through chapter 40R; and
The Senate bill and the House bill, which passed May 23, will go to a conference committee to produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the governor.