A State House Snapshot for June: Budget Negotiators meeting, Zoning Reform and Economic Development Bills Are Moving!

A State House Snapshot for June: Budget Negotiators meeting, Zoning Reform and Economic Development Bills Are Moving!

June 2016
David Bryant

State Budget:  With just six weeks remaining in the current Massachusetts Legislative Session, a number of important MACDC legislative priorities are still pending.   Our key budget priority, $2 Million in funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program administered by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), was included in the Governor’s and the House approved budget but not the Senate-passed budget. It must now be reconciled in a six-member House and Senate conference committee.  The Senate budget did provide $100,000 to cover operating expenses for the Massachusetts Food Trust – funds that were not provided by the House so this too must be addressed in the conference.  Further complicating the conference deliberations, the Baker administration disclosed last week that this year's state budget shortfall is larger than anticipated and estimates of revenues available for next year's budget might be off by as much as $750 million.  This news makes the budget reconciliation process even more challenging for the conference negotiators.  MACDC and its members are making their voices heard so legislators understand the importance of these programs.

Zoning Reform:  On June 9, the Massachusetts Senate passed “An Act promoting housing and sustainable development” (S.2311), by a vote of 23-15.  This is the first comprehensive zoning reform legislation to pass either the House or Senate in many decades, and we are grateful to so many of you who contacted your senators about this important legislation.

This is a tremendous victory for the Alliance and its partners, and, now, it is on to the House!

Here is a link to MACDC’s statement shared with senators ahead of the vote.

Economic Development:  On June 15, the Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies reported favorably H. 4413, An Act Relative to Job Creation, Workforce Development and Infrastructure Investment.  MACDC supports the economic development proposal and our members are encouraged that key policy concepts and areas of implementation and focus outlined in the bill are consistent with ideas CDCs have put forth.  These efforts are demonstrated by the multi-year funding commitments to:

  • The Mass Works Infrastructure Program ($300 million)
  • The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund ($45 million)
  • The Smart Growth Trust Fund ($15 million)
  • Transformative Development Initiative ($30 million)

The Joint Committee also included $6 million authorization over 3 years for capital expenses for the Massachusetts Food Trust – a huge win!  The bill will now go through a series of committees before it is voted on by the House and Senate and sent to the Governor. Here is our testimony to the House Committee on Bonding in support of the bill. We will need to follow the bill carefully to ensure that funding is maintained at each step along the way – as nothing is guaranteed for final passage.