Still a bad bill, Patrick’s Biotech Giveaway

Forget about the divergence between DiMasi and Patrick. They’ve been coming together on a few things this week (corporate taxes being one). The Globe is playing up Patrick momentum. The biotech bond bill a giveaway to the favorite industry of our new industrial planning class is moving ahead after some reconciliation. It is still a bad bill. State government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi unveiled a plan yesterday that would give $1 billion over 10 years to the state’s life-sciences industry and hand Governor Deval Patrick an opportunity for a major political victory.

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While DiMasi’s proposal to boost the biotechnology and medical-device industry differs in some key respects from the one Patrick proposed last year, it does incorporate the major elements of the governor’s initiative to build on the state’s reputation as a national hub for scientific research.

The big-ticket bill is one of several areas of potential agreement between DiMasi and Patrick that have emerged this week on Beacon Hill, setting up chances for Patrick to gain momentum after a frustrating first year, if the freshman governor is willing to compromise.

DiMasi is seeking to put his own imprint on the life sciences plan with an array of narrowly targeted, regional spending initiatives that would benefit individual companies, communities, and University of Massachusetts campuses. Even roadbuilders, vocational high school students, and scientists in Israel get a piece.

“Everybody’s going to find something to like in this,” said Representative Daniel Bosley, one of the chief writers of the legislation.

The plan includes $12.6 million to build an interchange on Interstate 93 near Andover, where the state wants to spur development of science-related companies; $12.9 million to improve sewage treatment in Framingham, which would benefit an expansion planned by Genzyme Corp.; and $30 million for vocational and technical high schools to improve life sciences courses. About $10 million would be used to establish a partnership with scientists in Haifa, Israel.

The bill calls for $95 million to build a life science center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and $90 million for a center for genetic research and genetic therapy on the UMass Medical School campus in Worcester.

We know that it will be politically tough to vote against a plan that “will create jobs.” But a spade is a spade. State government ought not to favor one industry over the other whether it is Fidelity or Raytheon or a little basketweaving collective!

About Karl Marx

Left wing libertarian conservative.