The House approves $666M economic development bill

Local News

An economic development bond bill passed Tuesday is packed with earmarks that lawmakers hope will boost projects in their districts.

State Representative Joe Wagner said the bill will help the state create jobs and support emerging technologies.

State Representative Stephen Kulik told 22News the bill will also create jobs in rural districts.

“It will create an incentive program using tax credits to attract private equity and private investment, and job creation in rural towns,” Rep. Kulik said.

The biggest piece of funding in the $666 million bill is for the state’s MassWorks program, which facilitates job creation and new infrastructure.

Representative Joseph Wagner told 22News the number one issue for employers is the availability of a skill ready workforce.

“The number one issue is not taxes, it’s not regulation, it’s a workforce, a ready workforce. So, this bill tries to address all of those things,” said Wagner.

Wagner said this is a “borrowing bill.” 

But, some cash has been spread across the state for specific projects, including western Massachusetts’ communities. For example, in Springfield, there is a $100,000 earmark for infrastructure improvements.

Wagner’s proposed amendments included in the bill are a Cybersecurity Innovation Fund to support facilities, hardware, and software used to develop or test cybersecurity solutions, and an Autonomous Vehicle Study to issue recommendations on how to advance the state’s competitiveness in the autonomous vehicle industry.

The bill would also reauthorize $50 million for the Cultural Facilities Fund.

Funded projects in 2018 included Springfield Museums, the Hitchcock Center and the Chester Theatre Company.

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