Baker signs law aimed at fostering economic development


BOSTON >> With the stroke of a pen Wednesday morning, Gov. Charlie Baker authorized $500 million in new state infrastructure spending, $45 million for contaminated site cleanups and $4.5 million for a cybersecurity and data center.

The roughly $1 billion economic development law completes the work on major bills highlighted by the governor as priorities for this legislative session. Five of six items identified by Baker as must-finish policy pieces became law in recent weeks, although Senate President Stan Rosenberg said last week that in the rush to write those bills lawmakers lost an opportunity make "good bills" even better.

The new law features tax credits to promote investments in new companies, creates a commission to examine online gaming in Massachusetts, and encourages workforce development by extending to families a new tax deduction tied to college savings plans.

The governor vetoed a provision of the bill allowing for community benefit districts, where a group of property owners can get together and agree to assessments for improvements — similar to a business district.

In addition to authorizing borrowing and spending roughly $1 billion in capital dollars, the new law establishes a new tax incentive for a prepaid tuition or college savings program established by the state. Single filers will be able to deduct $1,000 while married people filing jointly can deduct up to $2,000.

The bill also establishes an "angel investor tax credit" to encourage early investment in new companies. Investors would be able to receive an income tax credit of 20 percent of their investment in qualifying Massachusetts businesses that have no more than 20 fulltime employees and $500,000 in revenues. For fledgling businesses located in the state's 26 "gateway cities" — cities where educational attainment and median income are below the state's average — the credit totals 30 percent of the investment.

Asked how many jobs the new law would create, Ash's director of policy and communications, Paul McMorrow responded, "Government's job is not to create jobs, but to advance conditions that allow private employers to invest and create jobs." He said the law will "create a platform for dynamic economic growth in communities across Massachusetts."

The bill also permits the sale of alcohol by liquor stores on Memorial Day, after noon, and allows certain grocery stores to include on-premises alcohol consumption areas.


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