Burlington’s representative in the Massachusetts House signed on with his colleagues to pass a bill using federal funds made available in response to the pandemic, along with a couple of other sources, to support statewide and local economic initiatives.
According to a release from his office, Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and legislators from the House of Representatives unanimously passed an economic development bill that utilizes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) surplus funds, and bonds to make significant investments across several crucial sectors of the economy, and to give back to low and middle-income residents in Massachusetts by providing one-time rebates and significant tax relief beginning in 2023.
Included in the bill is legislation previously filed by Rep. Gordon, that will protect workers from being forced to waive important rights as a condition of a new-hire or continued employment. These waivers commonly take the form of “choice of laws” or “forum” restrictions, where workers agree to the laws and courts of a remote state. What then happens is that Massachusetts workers who think they are protected by state discrimination law are instead subject to the laws of another state, which may, for example, provide no protection from discrimination or sexual harassment for members of the LGBTQ+ community, or allow for the termination of a woman who uses a legal health care option here in Massachusetts.
“Now, more than ever, I am delighted that this significant legislation was included in the bill we sent to the Senate,” said Representative Gordon. “If it is not taken up there, I will work hard to make sure it is taken up in Conference Committee and sent to the Governor in the coming weeks.”
The overall protections for working families from Burlington, Bedford, Wilmington and Lexington are key factors that make this economic stimulus bill of paramount importance to the region, the release states.
“The bill makes critical investments in significant sectors of our economy that will provide necessary relief for our communities that are trying to recover from the ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic”, said Rep. Gordon. “I’m proud that this bill includes funding for Bedford and Burlington to support projects that will make important improvements.”
Highlights from the bill include:
- $150,000 for upgrades to the water infrastructure on the Middlesex Turnpike Corridor in Bedford
- $100,000 for the planning and implementation of a mixed-use walkable village in Burlington
- $2,000,000 for Boston MedFlight’s critical care air medical and ground critical care transport equipment
- Establishes Taxpayer Energy & Economic Relief Fund, which will distribute rebate payments to taxpayers earning between $38K and $100K
- $780M in investments in Health and Human Services, including financially strained hospitals, nursing facilities workforce needs, and community health centers
- $550M for economic development, including $125M in direct relief to small businesses and $75M for hotels impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Other investments in housing, water infrastructure, and resources for environmental justice communities
The bill also makes permanent changes to the Massachusetts tax code to provide structural relief to millions of residents across all income levels. The tax relief provisions include:
- Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Credit from $180 per child to $310 per child, as well as eliminating the current cap of $360 for two or more children
- Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 30 percent to 40 percent of the federal credit.
- Increasing the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit from $750 to $1,755
- Increasing the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000
- Increasing the estate tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million and eliminating the “cliff” effect which would tax just the value of the estate that exceeds $2 million, not the entire estate
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.