Mass. governor signs jobs bill, OKs tax holiday

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts residents who are struggling to find employment could soon benefit from a new economic development law that would invest millions of dollars in state grants, workforce training and a web portal for small businesses.

Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick signed the legislation into law Tuesday in at the Statehouse.

The law calls for a $50 million investment in the Scientific Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund, which will support research and development projects at businesses and universities, as well as $1 million for a "talent pipeline" that will provide matching grants to increase technology sector internships. Additionally, the law will invest $5 million in a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, which will help prepare state residents for new jobs, improve housing affordability and address regulatory matters that interest businesses.

Gregory Bialecki, the state's secretary of Housing and Economic Development, praised the law, calling it "very systematic and thoughtful."

Bialecki said the new law will help the state's economy because it seeks to address the employment gap between the eastern and western parts of the state and bolster investments in areas like research and development projects.

"It's a decision to build on some investments we've made already that have been very successful," he said of the new law.

Lawmakers also added a provision to the law before passing it in the Legislature that would set aside a two-day sales tax holiday Aug. 11-12 for certain purchases under $2,500.

Despite signing the bill, Patrick issued a series of vetoes to certain tax break provisions that he said would "create unaffordable tax benefits that are inconsistent with the recommendations of the Tax Expenditure Commission." The commission, formed last year by Patrick and the Legislature, has called for fewer and less generous tax breaks in the future and a periodic review of all existing breaks to make sure they are achieving worthwhile goals.

But House of Representatives Minority Leader Bradley Jones Jr. said the governor's veto of an estimated quarterly tax structure will make Massachusetts appear unfriendly to businesses. The provision would have created a timetable for corporations to pay their quarterly estimated taxes in four equal installments.

"Governor Patrick has proven that he is intent on advancing an agenda that is not favorable to the businesses and residents of the Commonwealth," said Jones, a North Reading Republican, in a statement.

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