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Legislature Advances Housing, Economic Development Bills

Posted on June 28, 2024

By Sam Larson
Vice President of Government Affairs 

The Massachusetts Legislature last week advanced sweeping measures designed to stimulate economic development and ease the commonwealth’s housing crisis. 

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $4.1 billion economic-development bill that provides funding and tax credits for life sciences, climate tech and other industries. It would allow the state to borrow $500 million for life sciences and $400 million for so-called climate-tech initiatives over 10 years while increasing tax incentives for life sciences companies by $200 million and creating $300 million in tax credits for climate-tech investments. 

Across the State House on Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate passed a $5.2 billion housing bond bill that includes money for affordable housing and tax credits. The bill omits a controversial provision opposed by AIM that would have allowed cities and towns to impose a transfer tax on real estate transactions worth more than $1 million. 

The House previously approved its own version of the housing bond bill, so negotiators will hammer out a final version in a conference committee. The housing crisis has been a major challenge for AIM members who report that the soaring cost of homes and rents in Massachusetts is driving some of our best and brightest employees to pull up stakes for less expensive regions of the country. 

The economic-development measure heads to the Senate for debate. Both bills authorize the state to spend money on the specified items, but the authorization doesn’t necessarily mean the money will get spent. 

“We are proud to support the House economic-development bill, which makes key economic and workforce investments and provides necessary tax credits to some of our state’s most important businesses sectors.” said Stephanie Swanson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.  

“The bill maintains the Commonwealth’s competitive edge as other states attempt to attract the life-sciences industry. It also extends our lead as the go-to state in the breakthrough climate technology sector. In addition, AIM applauds the House for taking a wholistic approach to economic development by spreading the benefits across regions and providing significant support for our foundational industries.” 

That support includes the establishment of a $10 million-per-year statewide internship tax credit, $400 million to the Mass Works Infrastructure Program, reform of the Economic Development Incentive Program, a centralized online portal called Business Front Door to act as a sort of concierge for companies seeking to locate or expand in the commonwealth. 

On the Senate housing bill, Ms. Swanson said: “The 3,400 member businesses of Associated Industries of Massachusetts applaud the Senate for taking an important step toward addressing the housing crisis. 

“Massachusetts has a supply problem and the only solution is to build our way out and provide thousands of new homes for our workers. We appreciate the Senate’s emphasis on production and investment and thank Senate leadership for not including a transfer tax that would disrupt an already difficult housing market. We strongly encourage Senators to emphasize production over regulation during debate on the bill.” 

State officials estimate that the bill will stimulate the development of 40,000 of the 200,000 new housing units the commonwealth needs by 2030 to accommodate new growth and maintain a healthy vacancy rate.