MACDC Lobby Day: Hit Me with Your Best Shot!
By any objective measure, MACDC’s 2018 Lobby Day was a tremendous success. On April 24, more than 150 community development practitioners and patrons filled the MA State House, with passion and vigor, both to thank the Governor and legislators who have supported important community economic development priorities this past year and to urge decisive action for completing important legislation before the end of the session on July 31st.
Lobby Day coincided with the beginning of the House of Representatives’ week of formal budget debate. Because of months of planning, outreach and engagement – primarily through State House meetings, committee hearings and in-district “Doughnuts” meetings – CDCs had secured broad support from Governor Baker, legislators and the House Committee on Ways and Means for several important budget priorities. In January, the Governor had proposed to restore funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program to $2 million in FY 2019, and to provide sufficient funding through the Division of Banks to provide at least $1.3 million for the State’s Chapter 206 grant program, which allows nonprofit partners to offer homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention counseling in communities across the Commonwealth. Chairman Jeff Sanchez and the House Committee on Ways and Means adopted these recommendations and the full House of Representatives passed in its budget late last week. (We encouraged senators to support these same policy initiatives through its budget process beginning in May.)
Fortunately, at this time the legislature already has advanced two of our most important priorities to a conference committee – the extension and expansion of the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program and a five-year extension of a $1.7 billion Housing Bond Bill – and should complete its compromise deliberations and send a bill to Governor Baker in the next few weeks.
Thus, MACDC members and its partners fanned out around the State House to thank legislators for this support and to encourage them to complete action on statewide zoning reform and restored state funding for the Community Preservation Trust Fund before the end of the legislative session July 31st.
MACDC’s Board met with Governor Baker to express our gratitude for his support and to highlight several key CDC member initiatives, to address community health disparities and low-income homeownership challenges, which may foretell important state - community partnership opportunities in the years ahead.
At the noon luncheon, a boost of encouragement was offered in remarks made by retiring Rep. Steve Kulik of Worthington, a longtime champion for our community economic development priorities (e.g., zoning reform, SBTA, CPA, CITC, Rural Policy Commission, etc.) who vowed to make a strong push through the end of his term. Senate President Harriette Chandler was the keynote speaker and she reiterated her commitment to housing affordability and her full-throated support of CDCs (see, prepared text of her remarks) offered a power chord for a chorus of activists to take heart from the rest of this session.