By Michael Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- The Massachusetts House has adjourned for the week after meeting past midnight Wednesday and approving a jobs bill that recapitalizes state economic development funds, features a new angel investor tax credit, and suspends the 6.25 percent sales tax for a weekend in August in an attempt to attract shoppers to the stores.
On Thursday, state senators arrive on Beacon Hill to face a newly minted House-Senate compromise calling for the state's $8 an hour minimum wage to rise in three annual increments to reach $11 in January 2017.
That proposal, which also includes unemployment insurance system reforms aimed at lowering costs for employers with stable workforces, was filed Wednesday night by a six-member conference committee and is not subject to amendment.
The wage hike accord also does not include a Senate-approved measure indexing the minimum wage to inflation, which is also a key feature of a $10.50 per hour initiative petition that could reach the November ballot.
If a nation-leading minimum wage hike is passed into law by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick, as now appears more likely after Wednesday night's accord, it will be up to petition organizers to decide whether to forge ahead with their proposal or drop it.
Senators on Thursday are also expected to approve two major bond bills, each with bottom lines above $1 billion.
One would commit existing targeted taxes that are paying debt on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to a massive expansion of that facility intended to pull the world's largest conventions to Massachusetts.
The Pioneer Institute in a statement Thursday outlined objections to oversight, project labor agreement, transparency and procurement features of the convention center bill, while praising the Senate Ways and Means Committee for "removing the $100 million hotel subsidy that Pioneer found troubling."
The second bond bill, a $1.12 billion version of which was approved by the House in March, authorizes $1.18 billion in borrowing throughout state government to make capital improvements.
The bond bill (S 2187) would authorize $350 million for general state facility improvements; $300 million for health and human services facilities; $25 million for accessibility improvements; and $50 million for cultural facilities. The bill would also authorize $8 million for vocational school equipment; $10 million for municipal facility grants; $150 million for public libraries; $10 million for the Department of Correction; $35 million for new state police cruisers; and $20 million for automated municipal vehicle citation systems.
The Senate gavels in at 1 p.m.