News

Recap of MA Senate Budget Action and Anticipated MACDC Next Steps for Budget Conference Agreement

May 29th, 2019 by David Bryant

Over three days last week, the Massachusetts Senate debated its FY2020 budget, and while they approved several important priorities for housing and community development, they set aside or rejected many of MACDC’s key budget priorities. 

As a reminder for you, in April the House voted to increase funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program to $3 million, and we asked the Senate to increase funding to $4 million to meet the existing demand for program resources. (The Senate Ways and Means proposed level funding of $2 million, as did Governor Baker.)  Senator Diana DiZoglio offered an amendment to increase SBTA program funding to $4 million, which was defeated by voice vote.  We will work to secure the higher level funding of $3 million when the Conference Committee (composed of six legislators – three from each chamber who meet to reconcile budget funding and policy differences) begins its deliberations in June. 
 
The House added $750,000 to Mass Development’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) line item for a neighborhood stabilization initiative for a total of $1 million.  Specifically, the House “provided, that $750,000 shall be expended on a neighborhood stabilization initiative to assist local governments and their non-profit partners to implement strategic neighborhood revitalization initiatives; and provided further, that the Initiative shall be developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, and the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, Inc. and shall focus on identifying and implementing strategies for reclaiming vacant, abandoned and blighted properties and restoring them to productive use as homeownership opportunities or rental housing, as well as on capacity-building at the local level to address this need.” 
 
Senate Ways and Means had proposed level funding ($250,000) and Senator Brendan Crighton offered an amendment to restore the $750,000 and the language above to conform to the House passed provision. The Senate rejected the Crighton amendment and we will seek the House approved language when the Conference convenes in June. 

 
The House provided level funding ($2.05 million) for the Chapter 206 funding from the MA Division of Banks (line item 7006-0011) to enable homeownership education and foreclosure prevention counseling, consistent with MACDC’s request, what Governor Baker proposed, and what Senate Ways and Means has proposed.  It was pleasant surprise – and an added bonus – when Sen. Jamie Eldridge offered, and the full Senate adopted, an amendment to increase this line item by $800,000, and we will work to retain this higher level funding in the Conference report. 
 
he House adopted a proposal to raise the deeds recording fees from $20 to $50 to improve the state’s match to communities from the CPA Trust Fund and the Senate adopted (by unanimous record vote) an amendment by Sen. Cynthia Creem to mirror the House proposal.  MACDC has long supported Sen. Creem’s legislative efforts to increase these deeds recording fees, and we were pleased that the Senate adopted this amendment, as well as an amendment by Sen. Bruce Tarr to authorize up to $20 million of FY19 budget surplus to be transferred to the CPA Trust Fund to alleviate an expected 2019 CPA Trust Fund shortfall. 

 
Finally, we were very pleased that Senators Cyr and DiZoglio agreed to offer an amendment to provide $5 million to recapitalize the Get the Lead Out Loan Program.  Early in the week, Sen. Cyr decided he would withdraw this amendment from the budget debate, based upon discussions with leadership and staff, and an understanding that he could obtain this funding through other legislation.  This will remain a critical priority for MACDC this session, as current projections from MassHousing suggest, without recapitalization, as of June 30, 2020, the fund balance essentially would be zero. 
 
The disparate actions taken by the House and Senate will be reconciled over the next 3-4 weeks in a Conference Committee.  Your calls and emails remain vital, if we are to achieve our highest budget priorities and other goals outlined in early January. 

 So, stay tuned to further Action Alerts; there is more work for us to do! 
 

Thank you for your support and your advocacy.

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Urge Your Senators to Co-sponsor and Support Sen. DiZoglio’s SBTA Budget Amendment (#19)!

May 14th, 2019 by David Bryant

MACDC is grateful to the Baker administration and the Legislature for funding the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) Program at $2 million in FY 2019 (line item 7002- 0040), and we are pleased that the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to increase SBTA funding to $3 million in its budget approved in April – a proposed 50% Program increase for FY 2020.

We are not done yet, and we’ll need your help next week, as the Senate begins debate on its FY20 budget on May 21st.

Last fall, the Baker administration and the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), announced $2 million in grants to 40 organizations. The grants range from $10,000 to $120,000 and will allow CDCs and other community-based organizations to provide customized management and operational assistance, financial training, and lending services to small businesses; these resources are targeted to serving low- to moderate-income communities.

There has been growing demand for these technical assistance and program resources; last year MGCC received requests for almost $4 million, and the demand for the program has almost tripled since it was launched in 2007.
Since then, MACDC has been seeking to increase SBTA Program funding to $4 million, in as much as the January 2018 Massachusetts Gaming Commission report, "Reinvesting the Gaming Economic Development Fund," recommended strategies to fund priorities, one of which was deemed to be support for small business technical assistance and lending.

We need your help to increase funding for the SBTA Program in FY 2020. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means has recommended level funding ($2 million) for SBTA.  However, Sen. Diana DiZoglio will be offering an amendment (#19) to increase funding to $4 million.  Please, take a moment to call your state senator and ask them to co-sponsor and support the DiZoglio amendment (#19) to increase funding SBTA at $4 million.

In a $42.7 billion state budget, $4 million represents less than 1/1000th, and it is not an unreasonable amount to request to ensure that small businesses continue to grow and thrive in every community.

 

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SBTA Funding Restored, $2 Million in Grants Awarded to 40 TA Providers

October 24th, 2018 by David Bryant

 

MACDC salutes the Baker Administration and the Legislature for funding the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program at $2 million in FY 2019, to ensure that this outstanding network of CDCs, CDFIs and other community-based groups continue helping small businesses grow and thrive in every community. 
 

In early October, The Baker Administration and the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) – the administrator for the SBTA program, announced the awards of $2million in grants to 40 organizations.  The grants range from $10,000 -- $120,000 and will allow these community-based organizations to provide customized management and operational assistance, financial training and lending services to small businesses, resources that are targeted to serving low- to moderate-income communities across the Commonwealth.  (You can learn more about these non-profit organizations and the programs they provide here.) 
 

These grants were made possible thanks to a legislative campaign led by MACDC earlier this year.  In January 2018, MACDC wrote to Governor Baker and legislative leaders to outline our FY 2019 budget priorities and restoring funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program to at least $2 million was at the top of the list.  (The program had been funded for FY ‘18 at just $750,000, a 62% reduction in two short years). 
 

Our members know we have an obligation to support people of color and people living in poverty as they seek support for building businesses and bringing opportunities to their neighborhoods and towns.  Governor Baker’s FY 2019 budget submission proposed to restore funding for SBTA to $2 million, and the House and Senate leadership affirmed its support throughout the final budget process this summer.

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We Have Lift Off: MA Food Trust Is Launched!

July 6th, 2018 by David Bryant

Governor Baker was first exposed to the MA Food Trust program at a briefing with the MACDC Board, May 2016.

After more than 6 years of advocacy to establish, fund and launch this program, the Baker-Polito Administration has fulfilled its quest by providing over $1 Million in funding to increase access to healthy, local food options and by selecting co-administrators for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program.  The MA Food Trust Program, a recommendation from a study by the Massachusetts Grocery Access Task Force, was established in law in 2014.  Since then, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) has led a statewide coalition of nearly 100 organizations to build legislative and administration support to develop, fund and implement a program, which fulfills our shared values:  good for jobs, good for communities and good for health.  MACDC has been proud to partner with MPHA and the Healthy Food Financing Working Group in pursuit of this vision.  Congratulations to MPHA, and the organizations that have been selected to administer this statewide program, the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) and Franklin County CDC.

For more information on the award announcement, read the Baker Administration’s press release here:  https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-awards-over-1-million-in-funding-to-increase-access-to-healthy

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Legislative News: Housing Bond Bill Approved, Senate Budget Nears Completion

May 25th, 2018 by David Bryant

The Massachusetts Senate is nearing the end of its week-long debate on its $41.4 billion budget, and, on balance, it has been a strong week for CDCs and our partners that serve small businesses and bring economic and housing opportunities to underserved families in communities across the Commonwealth.  Before jumping into the budget thicket, I’m excited to report that – during those intense deliberations – the conference committee completed its negotiations on the Housing Bond Bill, which was approved subsequently by both branches!  The $1.8 billion Bond Bill is on its way to Governor Baker, and, yes, it includes the extension and expansion of CITC through 2025!

 

Special thanks to Rep. Kevin Honan and Sen. Joseph Boncore, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing and the conference committee, the lead conferees – Reps. Joe McGonagle and Brad Hill, Sens. John Keenan and Patrick O’Connor – and House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways & Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez and Senate President Harriette Chandler and Senate Ways & Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka.  (See the attached summary of the final bill for more details.)

 

As to the Budget debate, here are a few highlights for MACDCs’ community and economic development priorities that have been addressed by further amendments and are in the final Senate Budget:

 

Small Business Technical Assistance (Sen. Julian Cyr, #796)

We were pleased to see that Governor Baker’s FY 2019 budget submission proposed to restore funding for SBTA to $2 million.  The House budget also would provide $2 million to this program.  As many of you know, our main FY 2019 budget priority has been to restore funding the SBTA program (line item 7002-0040) to at least $2 million.  Sen. Julian Cyr reintroduced his amendment from last year, to fund the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program at $2.5 million.  (The Senate Committee on Ways and Means had proposed $1.25 million for this program.)  The Senate adopted a “redraft” of Sen. Cyr’s amendment to provide $1.5 million.  We are extremely grateful to Sen. Cyr and his 12 colleagues who joined him as cosponsors (Sens. DiDomenico, Hinds, Gobi, Eldridge, Moore, Fattman, Welch, L’Italien, Collins, Tran, O’Connor and Brownsberger), and further encouraged by his commitment to help us secure greater funding in the Budget conference committee.

 

Chapter 206 – Homeownership Education and Foreclosure Prevention Counseling (Sen. Eldridge, #684)

We are pleased to report that the Senate adopted an amendment by Sen. Jamie Eldridge to add an additional $500,000, for Chapter 206 funding from the MA Division of Banks (DOB) (line item 7006-0011), to enable nonprofit counseling agencies to provide homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention counseling.  (The Administration has proposed $1.55 million – and the House concurred – which they say is sufficient to enable DOB to cover their own administrative costs and provide $1.3 million in grants to non-profit organizations, essentially level funding. Funding is possible through administrative fees associated with the licensure of loan originators, according to Chapter 255F of the Massachusetts General Laws, under which DOB may use retained revenue to fund this program.  Grants are awarded through a competitive application process under criteria determined by DOB. The Eldridge amendment (redraft #864) will increase funding to $2.05 million.  Please express your compliments and gratitude to Sen. Eldridge and his cosponsors:  Sens. Hinds, L’Italien, Collins, O’Connor, and Welch.

 

Community Preservation Trust Fund (Sen. Cynthia Creem, #3)

Cities and towns that adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) draw funds from two sources – a local property tax surcharge and an annual distribution from the statewide CPA Trust Fund.  State matching funds are projected to decline to 11% in 2018.  MACDC supported the amendment and is grateful that the Senate unanimously adopted Sen. Creem’s proposal for a $30 increase to the recording fees at State Registries of Deeds – unadjusted since it was established 18 years ago – to provide a 30% (estimate) CPA Trust Fund first round distribution for all CPA communities across the Commonwealth.

 

[Note:  When the Senate completes its budget, a conference committee of House and Senate members will be convened to reconcile the differences between each chamber's bill and to send a consolidated budget agreement to the Governor, ideally by June 30th.]

 

We appreciate the support CDCs receive from so many of the members in the Legislature, including many of its leaders who aren’t direct cosponsors listed above, and have offered tremendous guidance and support to shape other important legislation in addition to the budget.  CDC members work to help prepare families and small businesses to meet economic challenges in every corner of the Commonwealth.  The important initiatives we have outlined above are helping families and businesses to succeed, and we couldn’t do it without them, or you, so be sure to say, “thanks.”

 

And, thank you for your advocacy.

 

 

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MACDC Lobby Day: Hit Me with Your Best Shot!

April 30th, 2018 by David Bryant

By any objective measure, MACDC’s 2018 Lobby Day was a tremendous success.  On April 24, more than 150 community development practitioners and patrons filled the MA State House, with passion and vigor, both to thank the Governor and legislators who have supported important community economic development priorities this past year and to urge decisive action for completing important legislation before the end of the session on July 31st. 

Lobby Day coincided with the beginning of the House of Representatives’ week of formal budget debate.  Because of months of planning, outreach and engagement – primarily through State House meetings, committee hearings and in-district “Doughnuts” meetings – CDCs had secured broad support from Governor Baker, legislators and the House Committee on Ways and Means for several important budget priorities. In January, the Governor had proposed to restore funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program to $2 million in FY 2019, and to provide sufficient funding through the Division of Banks to provide at least $1.3 million for the State’s Chapter 206 grant program, which allows nonprofit partners to offer homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention counseling in communities across the Commonwealth.  Chairman Jeff Sanchez and the House Committee on Ways and Means adopted these recommendations and the full House of Representatives passed in its budget late last week.  (We encouraged senators to support these same policy initiatives through its budget process beginning in May.)

Fortunately, at this time the legislature already has advanced two of our most important priorities to a conference committee – the extension and expansion of the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program and a five-year extension of a $1.7 billion Housing Bond Bill – and should complete its compromise deliberations and send a bill to Governor Baker in the next few weeks.

Thus, MACDC members and its partners fanned out around the State House to thank legislators for this support and to encourage them to complete action on statewide zoning reform and restored state funding for the Community Preservation Trust Fund before the end of the legislative session July 31st.

MACDC’s Board met with Governor Baker to express our gratitude for his support and to highlight several key CDC member initiatives, to address community health disparities and low-income homeownership challenges, which may foretell important state - community partnership opportunities in the years ahead.

At the noon luncheon, a boost of encouragement was offered in remarks made by retiring Rep. Steve Kulik of Worthington, a longtime champion for our community economic development priorities (e.g., zoning reform, SBTA, CPA, CITC, Rural Policy Commission, etc.) who vowed to make a strong push through the end of his term.  Senate President Harriette Chandler was the keynote speaker and she reiterated her commitment to housing affordability and her full-throated support of CDCs (see, prepared text of her remarks) offered a power chord for a chorus of activists to take heart from the rest of this session.

Fire away!

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Join Us and Support Great Neighborhoods Across the Commonwealth!

November 13th, 2017 by David Bryant

As members of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA), MACDC enthusiastically endorses the Great Neighborhoods campaign, led by MSGA, which is all about safeguarding and securing many of the things we all care about: better housing choices for families and seniors; more vibrant, walkable downtowns that promote healthy living and local businesses; and a development approach that preserves natural resources and protects us from climate change.

You may already know some of the following unfortunate facts:

· The median home sale price is now over $400,000 while the median rent in the state is $2600 per month. Nearly some quarter-million families in Massachusetts pay more than half their income on housing.

· At the same time, 13 acres of open space are lost to sprawling development in Massachusetts, and the average single-family lot in Metro Boston is now larger than a professional football field.

· At least 52% of Americans want to live in places where they do not have to use a car often.

You can learn more about the Campaign, sign the petition, and read the Call to Action here, which lists organizations that endorse these shared principles. Please contact Larry Field at the MA Smart Growth Alliance if your organization can endorse the Campaign. His email address is larry@ma-smartgrowth.org.

A broad range of organizations has joined the Great Neighborhoods campaign to promote its core principles and to call on state leaders to pass a strong bill this session that addresses the housing crisis and looks to create healthier, walkable places to live and thrive. We urge that your organization join the Great Neighborhoods campaign and that you individually sign the petition calling on state leaders to act!

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CITC Extension Bills Attract Support from 70 Legislators!

February 22nd, 2017 by David Bryant

An Act to promote high-impact community investment (HD 2579/SD 609), legislation to extend the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program through 2025 and to incrementally grow the program during this period was introduced in the House and Senate by Rep. Stephen Kulik and Sen. Sal DiDomenico, and, to date, has received the support of 67 legislators as co-sponsors – listed below.

(Note: Please review, and if your representative or senator is not listed, you may still contact them and ask them to co-sponsor the Senate version (SD 609).)

We look forward to working with all of you to pass this legislation in the current legislative session and to advancing this dynamic, community-based investment program.

Co-sponsors (as of 3/15/17):

  • Rep. Bud Williams
  • Rep. David T. Vieira
  • Rep. John W. Scibak
  • Rep. Robert M. Koczera
  • Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose
  • Rep. Todd M. Smola
  • Rep. Aaron Vega
  • Rep. Adrian Madaro
  • Rep. Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr.
  • Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante
  • Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral
  • Rep. Brian M. Ashe
  • Rep. Byron Rushing
  • Rep. Chris Walsh
  • Rep. Colleen M. Garry
  • Rep. Daniel Cullinane
  • Rep. Daniel M. Donahue
  • Rep. Denise Provost
  • Rep. Diana DiZoglio
  • Rep. Dylan Fernandes
  • Rep. Edward F. Coppinger
  • Rep. Elizabeth A. Malia
  • Rep. Evandro C. Carvalho
  • Rep. Jay D. Livingstone
  • Rep. Jay R. Kaufman
  • Rep. Jennifer E. Benson
  • Rep. Jerald A. Parisella
  • Rep. Joan Meschino
  • Rep. John J. Lawn, Jr.
  • Rep. Jonathan Hecht
  • Rep. Jose F. Tosado
  • Rep. Joseph F. Wagner
  • Rep. Juana Matias
  • Rep. Kevin G. Honan
  • Rep. Marjorie C. Decker
  • Rep. Mary S. Keefe
  • Rep. Michael J. Finn
  • Rep. Mike Connolly
  • Rep. Patricia A. Haddad
  • Rep. Paul A. Schmid, III
  • Rep. Paul Tucker
  • Rep. Randy Hunt
  • Rep. Sarah K. Peake
  • Rep. Stephen Kulik
  • Rep. Tackey Chan
  • Rep. William Smitty Pignatelli
  • Rep. Claire D. Cronin
  • Rep. James J. O'Day
  • Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez
  • Rep. Natalie Higgins
  • Rep. Sean Garballey
  • Rep. Russell Holmes
  • Rep. Daniel Hunt
  • Rep. Josh Cutler
  • Rep. Frank Moran
  • Sen. Mark Montigny
  • Sen. Anne M. Gobi
  • Sen. Barbara A. L'Italien
  • Sen. Eric P. Lesser
  • Sen. James B. Eldridge
  • Sen. Jennifer L. Flanagan
  • Sen. Joan B. Lovely
  • Sen. Julian Cyr
  • Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry
  • Sen. Michael F. Rush
  • Sen. Sal N. DiDomenico
  • Sen. William N. Brownsberger
  • Sen. Harriet Chandler
  • Sen. John Keenan
  • Sen. Bruce Tarr
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Oh, ho, ho – It’s (Not) Magic: a few principles to observe when lobbying our legislative leaders

January 19th, 2017 by David Bryant

It’s January, a new Congress has convened in Washington ahead of a new Trump Administration, and a new legislature is in place in Massachusetts. There is a swirl of activities – meetings with legislators, strategy sessions with allies, and the sharing of gossip and ideas across the spectrum – before the true crush of legislative work and budgeting begins.

As we prepare to advocate for new resources and policies with the advent of a new legislature and a new legislative session, there are certain norms to adhere to as we work through the process to build support for our favored initiatives. During these first, frenzied weeks, I spent a few hours working with a group of graduate students from Harvard’s Kennedy School on a public policy project. Essentially, I briefed the team of students on a MACDC policy issue – our desire to restore higher funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program – and shared some background information about the program and the Massachusetts legislative process. Overnight, they developed an advocacy pitch and sought feedback before delivering the presentation the following day to a few retired legislators.

I joined the team as an observer, and, while both presentations went well they achieved mixed results. In one instance, they secured support for their “ask,” while the other representative was noncommittal about her support. In the subsequent debrief, the students learned important lessons about advocacy, community engagement and the legislative process. As an observer, I gained renewed insight to the process as well. There is nothing magical about lobbying our legislative leaders, and I believe there are a few basic principles to follow that may help to demystify the process:

* Be direct with your appeal and always be honest in your approach – avoid exaggerating ideas or a misstatement of actions as facts intended to resolve the issue in your favor;

* Most legislators are moved by local concerns, so it helps if you can “frame” the problem or challenge in those terms, and show support from that representative’s community;

* Be courteous and respectful throughout the process - not fawning, yet not too familiar; don’t assume you will have the same level of support because you have gained it in the past. And be wary of unintentionally showing disrespect and jeopardizing a long-term relationship with legislator(s) by making an untenable request.

* Be mindful of any good advice or suggestions that may be offered along the way as means to advance your initiative and always be open to continue the dialogue.

Our political process often seems confusing – shrouded in ceremonial rituals, daunting language and obscure procedures. Sometimes this is true, but just as often there are straightforward ways and means to convey your policy interests (in formal meetings like Lobby Day, or informally outside of the local market, or neighborhood community center) and share your story to a kind ear, to receive a favorable result. “Never believe, it’s not so.”

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MACDC Announces 2017 Policy Agenda

December 13th, 2016 by David Bryant

From September through October of this year, MACDC staff met with board, staff and community members of 15 CDCs from around the state to identify priority issues for our 2017-2018 
legislative/policy agenda. 

We also received input from the Western Mass. and Real Estate 
Development and Organizers’ peer groups, surveyed the 
membership and had a number of conversations with allies at 
CHAPA, LISC, Smart Growth Alliance and MAHA. 

Our Policy Committee reviewed all of this input and made its 
recommendation to the board, which approved the following 
advocacy priorities:

•    Passage of Housing Bond Bill 
•    Extending the CITC beyond the 2019 sunset
•    Restoring funding for the Small Business Technical 
    Assistance Program to $2 million 

We will, over the course of the next legislative session, work on 
other important issues as they arise.

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