Testimony on An Act to Promote Economic Development throughout the Commonwealth

This is a comprehensive bill and I commend Chairwoman Spilka and President Murray for their work to streamline the commonwealth’s economic development agencies and improve access to capital for small businesses.  I would like to request that the Committee consider the following:

Tax Credit Transparency

This bill will increase accountability and oversight of state agencies, quasi-publics and our contracts with private organizations engaged in economic development activities.

This should extend to an examination of where every single public dollar is going, and what impact it is having especially in this time of massive budget cuts,

The committee should include language to amend Chapter 62C of the General Laws to require public disclosure of the results of refundable or transferable tax credit programs that was proposed by Governor Patrick in H2.

This measure would provide us with the information we need to be good stewards of the public’s money, and provide a measure of accountability as to the cost effectiveness of tax credits.

Gathering information on these tax credits would allow us to determine if it makes sense in this fiscal climate to begin pulling back on certain tax credits is so that money and resources can be sent to our economic development agencies allowing them to do their job better and focus additional resources to workforce development programs to help train the unemployed workers.

Asset Development/ Workforce development

As Chair of the Asset Development commission spent two years examining ways in which the state’s agencies can work for low-income people.  This bill is uniquely positioned to streamline the states economic development agencies to benefit businesses and individual development.

This can be realized by demanding that state agencies put particular emphasis on lending to poor families and poor areas of the state, and restoring programs like the Individual Development Accounts and workforce development and training.

The Massachusetts Individual Development Account program is a competitive grant program allows low and moderate wage earners to move towards economic self sufficiency.  They may use these IDA savings for one of three goals: purchase their first home; receiving post secondary education or training; or starting/expanding a small business.

State Owned Bank

Increased lending and credit can be achieved through the formation of State Owned bank.  North Dakota has successfully maintained a state owned bank since its creation in 1919 and other states are currently looking into such a model.

The Bank of North Dakota serves as an economic development agency and a lender to banks that lessens the loan risks of private banks and helps them finance larger projects. It offers cheap loans to farmers, students and businesses

Devens Enterprise Commission

On a local matter, I request that Sections 129, 130 and 131 be changed or removed as a result of their references to the Devens Enterprise commission and Chapter 498 of the Acts of 1993

The three towns Ayer, Harvard and Shirley that comprise Devens found a delicate balance in Chapter 498 and it was seen as sacred that any changes would have to be agreed upon by the towns.

Changes to the DEC and Chapter 498 are interfering in a local matter, and I believe that my constituents and district would see it that way too.

The concern stems from the fact that the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) is a land use board which votes on actual proposals like a ZBA, Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and Board of Health would. The DEC is a Land Use Permitting and Regulatory agency, not an economic development agency and it should be left out of the legislation.

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