The Massachusetts House has approved an amendment to the state budget increasing the amount of money available for cities and towns through the Community Preservation Act (CPA). The CPA is an act which was passed in 2000 and makes funds available for certain community projects. This money will come from surplus revenue.
According to Wicked Local – Essex, Representative Timothy Madden (D – Nantucket) spoke in favor of the amendment claiming that this was the most important vote of the night.
“This is, by all means, in my opinion, the most important bill we are doing tonight. It’s a jobs bill. It creates affordable housing,” Madden said.
Madden’s claim that this bill creates affordable housing is an interesting one. According to some reports only 124 affordable housing units have been built since the program began using $6,058,361 of available monies while $174,582,826 has been used to acquire open space.
A 2007 study entitled “The Massachusetts Community Preservation Act: Who Benefits, Who Pays?” by the Rappaport Institute of Greater Boston, part of Harvard University shows that the poorest communities in the state benefit the least from the program while actually contributing more. Since most of the money has been used for open space, the bulk of it goes to the wealthiest communities in the state, those with the most open space to be had. Most of the CPA money finds it way to Cape Cod and Middlesex County. This also occurs because of where the state matching funds come from, an added fee collected on real estate transactions. Since the poorer communities tend to have more real estate transfers, they contribute the most to the fund.
Madden is also calling this a jobs bill, but since the greatest amount of funds goes to open space there are really no jobs created, in fact it could be argued jobs are actually taken out of the economy since this open space is no longer available to be developed.
In a time when Massachusetts roads and bridges are crumbling wouldn’t it be better to spend this excess revenue on infrastructure repair instead of raising the state gas tax as proposed by Governor Patrick?