The Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants last week launched the Financial Literacy for Newcomers Program

The Massachusetts House crossed one of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s priority bills off its list Wednesday with the unanimous passage of a bill to establish a new grant program to help cities and towns confront climate change impacts and to borrow more than $1 billion to pay for it.

The bill (H.3987) would create the GreenWorks infrastructure program under the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to help communities address things like the threat of rising seas and floodwaters, and the damage that’s already been done. The bill authorizes the state to borrow $1.3 billion and to dole out $100 million for GreenWorks each year for a decade.

Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a similar bill (S.10) that would raise the state’s real estate transfer tax to generate the funding necessary to provide the same $1 billion over 10 years to protect properties and help cities and towns cope with climate change impacts. However, the bill faces opposition from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and from NAIOP-MA, the commercial real estate development association. Both groups have said they prefer DeLeo’s plan over Baker’s, while environmental groups are pushing both approaches to raise funds for climate change adaptations.

DeLeo, whose coastal district covers Winthrop and parts of Revere, first pitched the program in February during an event at Greentown Labs in Somerville and had said he wanted the House to vote on it before vacating Beacon Hill for the traditional August break.

“GreenWorks builds on a long-standing House approach to provide concrete tools directly to cities and towns that result in both immediate and long-lasting positive effects,” DeLeo said in a statement. “This forward-looking investment helps Massachusetts cities and towns build resilient communities, lower long-term operating costs and cut greenhouse gases while creating jobs for workers across the commonwealth.”

The bill establishes a competitive grant program under which municipalities could apply each year for funding for specific projects. Two or more towns would be able to apply jointly for money to pay for regional resilience efforts.

Despite the state’s already high debt levels, the House bill tacks the cost of the program onto the state’s credit card, rather than paying for it with a tax increase, as Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed for a similar program. The planned borrowing would also be executed outside of the state’s bond cap, under the bill.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. Because he filed it with the Senate, Baker’s similar bill (S 10) could be bound for the Senate if it emerges from committee. Asked this month whether she favors DeLeo’s borrowing approach or Baker’s tax hike plan, Senate President Karen Spilka did not show her cards.

“We will take a look, I will discuss this with my chairs and the other senators,” she said.

Alternative to Baker’s Climate Change Real Estate Tax Clears House

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min
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