The “Jobs Bill” – An Act Relative to Infrastructure Investment, Enhanced Competitiveness & Economic Growth in the Commonwealth – was signed into law August 7, 2012 by Governor Patrick.
As I was quoted in the Governor’s press release: “This bill is the result of a close collaborative effort by the House, Senate, Governor’s economic team, and the business community. Although the Commonwealth has fared better than most of the country, this wide-ranging bill creates a welcoming environment for innovation and growth. Combined with the ongoing, system-wide regulatory review process, Massachusetts continues to be attractive for business expansion.”
A summary of the various sections of the bill is available for review. NAIOP is most pleased with the extension of the Permit Extension Act (Section 173 of Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2010). Permits in effect or existence at any time between August 15, 2008 and August 15, 2012 will be extended by a total of 4 years (an addition of two years to the previous extension and four years for permits issued during the past two years). The extension will preserve state and local permitting decisions, allowing permitted projects to move forward without costly and time consuming delays to reissue permits. This impacts all properties: commercial, housing, business expansions, universities, hospitals, and infrastructure projects.
In addition, the bill creates a new Local Infrastructure Development Program (Chapter 23L) that gives municipalities another tool for leveraging private funding to finance infrastructure improvements that are needed to support economic growth. It would fund infrastructure for homeowners and commercial projects without using local or state funds. This is strictly a local municipal option to assist property owners who desire to finance infrastructure (e.g. roads, water, sewer, alternative energy, etc.) The MassDevelopment-issued bonds would be secured and paid back by betterment liens on the benefited real estate.
Another win is the expansion of the successful I-cubed (Infrastructure Investment Incentive) program, which increases the number of projects per community from two to three. It also increases the available funding for the program from $250 million to $325 million. It will add parking garages to the definition of public infrastructure improvements, and will include the taxes generated from construction jobs and purchases as part of the calculation for new state tax revenues. I-cubed, which originally passed in 2006, was designed to finance significant new public infrastructure improvements necessary to support major new private development.
The Act will also streamline the current District Improvement Financing (DIF) program, by eliminating the required EACC review of DIF districts and development plans, which will make the program more accessible to cities and towns.
Although the Governor did veto the Brownfields tax credit extension, we are confident that the internal review of this program will result in its extension prior to its expiration a year from now.
This fall, NAIOP will be presenting a special Governmental Affairs educational seminar on this important economic development bill, as well as an update on the many regulatory changes occurring throughout the Administration’s various Departments. Keep an eye out for details!