Boston/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 03, 2024
Massachusetts House Unveils $6.2 Billion Housing Bond Stripping Healey's Real Estate TaxSource: Unsplash/ Breno Assis

The Massachusetts House has rolled out a $6.2 billion housing bond bill that's hefty on borrowing and incentives but scraps a proposed real estate transfer tax on pricey property sales. According to MassLive, this whopper of a legislative move combines tax credits and reforms aimed at spurring a spate of housing production, with a nod to the easy development of accessory dwelling units, or so-called 'granny flats', on single-family lots.

The detailed package, which is beefier than Governor Maura Healey's original $4.1 billion proposal, has decided to bypass her suggested local-option tax on the sale of real estate over $1 million. This exclusion lobbed a significant blow to proponents like Healey herself and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who saw the tax as a prime coffer-filler for affordable housing initiatives. Yet, in a play of legislative caution, House Speaker Ron Mariano hinted at the bill being just the beginning of a process in an interview obtained by MassLive.

Stashed within this big-ticket legislation are $1 billion for potential water system expansions and a cool $150 million to flip commercial spaces into multi-family or mixed-use digs. The aim? To ratchet up housing development across the Bay State. Meanwhile, a hefty slice—$2 billion, that is—is earmarked towards public housing refurbishments—a dire need within the state's housing landscape.

Although the transfer tax was axed, the ambition remains high. A statement shared through Mariano's office suggests the grand total of this legislative behemoth as "the largest housing investment in state history," as described by Housing Committee Co-chair Rep. James Arciero. In response to the dropped real-property levy, the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance chimed in, praising the cut as a win for taxpayers. Spokesperson Paul D. Craney remarked, according to a MassLive statement, "Speaker Mariano was correct to change his mind on this proposed tax hike and Senate leadership should do the same."

This bill surfaces amid a statewide housing pinch, with all eyes on Wednesday as the House prepares to vote, more than seven months after Healey's initial filing. While her office estimated her plan could generate over 40,000 housing units, it's unclear if the House Democrats' souped-up version will match or surpass that projection. The stakes are high as the legislation arrives in the hands of lawmakers poised to set a decisive course for countless Massachusetts residents in search of an affordable place to call home.