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Urgent Community Needs Take Back Seat to Corporate Handouts


Press release for immediate release, Oct. 17, 2005
Urgent Community Needs Take Back Seat to Corporate Handouts

Contact: Jill Stein 617-852-4727, Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities

A taxpayer-subsidized land grab is at the core of an “economic stimulus” package just passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives according to the citizen watchdog group the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC). Their analysis of the bill (passed by the House as number H4404) shows that the bulk of its money is concentrated in a $200 million subsidy for “site remediation, preparation and ancillary infrastructure improvement projects”. Grants would go to land development projects on both private and public parcels if corporations will promise to create at least 100 permanent jobs on a site. MCHC notes that such promises have proven to be unenforceable in the past, and that the economic benefits of such subsidies have not been verified by objective economic analyses.

According to Jill Stein, president of MCHC, “The stimulus package puts corporate subsidies ahead of urgent community needs. We are allowing critical community programs for schools, public health and safety to continue to decay, so we can divert money to corporations who offer a plan to hire someone in the future. That depresses our economy today for the hope of an uncertain future payback. Such schemes have generally failed in the past. Yet this dubious, key element of the package has received virtually no public debate.”

Stein noted that the high cost of housing in Massachusetts is an oft-cited obstacle to recruiting and retaining skilled employees needed for high tech enterprises. “But in recent years, the Legislature has slashed affordable housing programs. If we neglect those programs in order to build subsidized office parks, the housing crisis will just grow more intense” she warned.

Stein also noted that the full cost of the measure was not revealed by bill proponents because the costs of several business tax breaks in the bill were not included in public announcements. “Tax giveaways are an important part of the price tag of this bill, and they shouldn’t be hidden. We need a full cost accounting to figure out how much this bill is really going to cost us.”

MCHC called for the land development subsidy to be removed from the bill and for funds to be directed toward restoring important state programs devastated in the budget-cutting during 2001 and 2002. “Education, a healthy workforce, and livable communities are the real foundations of economic health. These should be our stimulus priorities, rather than handouts to powerful lobbying interests. We need to target our budget resources to rehiring our teachers and health care workers, and giving our struggling communities help in protecting open space and creating affordable housing.”
PO Box 644, Lexington, MA 02420 • 617-852-4727 • [email protected]www.masschc.org


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