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Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday filed a bill to direct more than $900 million in capital funding for economic development initiatives.
According to a statement from his office, the legislation would, over five years, invest "up to $918 million in capital funding for local infrastructure, Brownfields site cleanup, Gateway Cities development, development site assembly and site readiness, smart growth housing, workforce development, emerging technologies, and community-based innovation."
Said Baker in the statement: “Strong communities, a highly-trained workforce, and our commitment to welcoming emerging technologies will ensure Massachusetts’ continues to have a pro-growth business environment providing economic opportunities for all.”
The largest program in the bill would be $500 million to recapitalize the MassWorks program, which the governor said will be out of money by next year. The capital grant program provides municipalities and other public entities with infrastructure grants.
Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said the state last year funded 49 projects in 46 communities with the MassWorks budget.
The bill also proposes changes to state liquor laws that would make it easier for farmer-brewers and distillers to sell their products at farmers' markets or for alcohol retailers to serve patrons at in-house restaurants.
The economic development legislation was introduced a day after Baker unveiled his $39.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2017, which would boost spending by 3.5 percent over current fiscal year levels.
Also in that spending plan: $5 million for populations throughout Massachusetts that face chronically high levels of unemployment.
With reporting by State House News Service and the WBUR Newsroom
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