House Passes Comprehensive Economic Stimulus Bill
Representative Eric T. Turkington (D-Falmouth) and Representative Matthew Patrick (D-Falmouth) announced today that the House of Representatives unanimously passed a comprehensive $335 million economic stimulus bill designed to create jobs and spur business growth in the Commonwealth.
Responding directly to the needs of Massachusetts businesses and employees, the House Economic Investment Act focuses on targeting resources to small businesses, community development and workforce training education while also easing a number of regulatory burdens. The plan is the culmination of a statewide â??listening tourâ? during which Legislators heard directly from members of the business community about ways to improve the stateâ??s business climate.
The House package also establishes a first-in-the-nation Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund recognizing the importance of culture and tourism to the stateâ??s overall economy. The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund will assist theaters, arts centers and museums throughout the Commonwealth with an estimated $1 billion in unmet maintenance and upgrade needs.
The fund will award grants to nonprofit cultural organizations and require recipients to raise private matching funds. The legislation calls for an initial infusion of $13 million in state funding. Over the next ten years, the stateâ??s investment could total upwards of $250 million and leverage another $250 million in private financing, helping to create countless jobs, boost programming and enhance local communities across the Commonwealth.
Turkington gets $500,000 for tourism industry labor force needs
Included in the bill is an amendment by Rep. Eric Turkington that, for the first time, designates up to $500,000 for grants to support the labor force needs of the state's travel and tourism industry, particularly the development of career ladder and wage improvement strategies.
Mr. Turkington added, â??As chairman of the joint committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, I am pleased to be able to report that all of these important areas receive major funding in this bill. â??The Cultural Facilities section will provide a continuing revenue stream to provide grants to historical, cultural, and other facilities on the Cape and Islands and across the Commonwealth for maintenance and renovation of the many structures that mean so much to our communities.
â??And my amendment to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund places the travel and tourism industry on the same plane as the healthcare industry in terms of recognition as a key element of our state's economy.â?
Mr. Patrick commented, â??The House of Representatives listened to the ideas of people on the front lines of job creation and, as a result, crafted a bill that will lead the way on economic development in the Commonwealth. By making targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure and technology, this package will help us compete in todayâ??s global, knowledge-based economy.â?
Patrick gets Massachusettsâ??s Teachers Association a seat
Through an amendment, Rep. Patrick secured a seat for the Massachusettsâ??s Teachers Association on the newly formed Goddard Council on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The council has been formed to make recommendations to the chancellor of higher education. The seat on the council will give the MTA the opportunity to provide their experience in methods of teaching our students how to prepare for the demands of the knowledge based economy of the future.
The House plan focuses on helping businesses and employees already in Massachusetts, unlike legislation filed by the Governor that seeks primarily to attract out-of-state business, continued Patrick, â??We think it is imperative to help our in-state employer base and workforce instead of committing our limited resources to promotional concepts geared toward out-of-state companies that might not result in any actual job creation.â?
Among a myriad of other initiatives, the bill authorizes $1.5 million to establish an in-state sales force within the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, authorizes $2 million for small business technical assistance grants targeted to companies with fewer than 20 employees and creates an $11 million Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to enhance worker skills, incomes, productivity and retention.
In addition, the House Economic Investment Act establishes a $200 million Capital Projects Bond Program to provide grants to local municipalities and private entities for infrastructure improvements. The Bond Program is a direct response to the myriad of concerns aired at the â??listening tourâ? about the stateâ??s aging infrastructure. Eligible projects must either create and maintain for a minimum of five years, 100 new permanent full time jobs in Massachusetts, or document a â??sufficiently exceptionalâ? economic benefit to the Commonwealth.
The House Economic Investment Act must be approved by the Senate before it can reach the Governorâ??s desk.