HCN News & Notes

Lesser Bill Would Redirect GE Funds to Vocational Schools

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser introduced a bill Friday that will reinvest the incentive funds returned to the state from General Electric into the state’s vocational schools, following the company’s announcement Thursday that it will be reducing its footprint in Boston.

General Electric said Thursday that it plans to sell the property of its planned headquarters in Boston and reimburse the state for $87 million in incentives the company received to move its headquarters to the city. Instead of building a new office tower, the company will move its new headquarters into two brick buildings on the same site that are currently being renovated.

The company also expects to hire only 250 workers at its reduced headquarters, down from the 800 it had originally promised in order to receive the incentives to move to Boston.

Lesser’s bill, which has yet to be given a docket number, is titled “An Act to invest more in middle class jobs and less in the relocation of out-of-state corporations.”

The bill directs any grants of more than $20 million that have been issued to municipalities or other public agencies to incentivize corporations to relocate to Massachusetts — but have since been rescinded — toward vocational schools and school districts that include one or more vocational schools.

The grants will be used to fund the design, construction and renovation of vocational-technical education programs, as well as equipment purchases and installation that will enable the schools to expand capacity and reduce student waitlists.

“Let’s do what it actually takes to create middle class jobs,” Lesser said. “We have long waiting lists at our vocational schools across the Commonwealth to train young people in high-need fields like advanced manufacturing, 3-D printing and building trades. We have thousands of available positions in high-paying fields in every corner of our state that are going unfilled because of the backlog at our career and technical training centers. Instead of giving massive tax breaks and incentives to corporations, which will likely park those payments on Wall Street, let’s invest that money in our local workforce and support the families and businesses that are already here and are looking for work.”

The Boston property that would have been GE’s new 12-story office tower on Boston’s waterfront is partly owned by MassDevelopment, the quasi-public development agency which had purchased the two brick buildings there, and invested in construction and financing to prepare the property.

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