THE PIONEER BLOG

“A Source of Wonderful Ideas and Terrific Innovation”

“…yet another idea that came out of the Better Government Competition, in real-time, delivered by Pioneer Institute to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…This organization, this event, for years and years and years has been a source of wonderful ideas and terrific innovation, and I want to, on behalf of the Commonwealth, thank you for your leadership […]

Understanding the Downgrade

S&P Global Ratings (S&P) recently downgraded Commonwealth and certain other Massachusetts agency bond ratings one notch from AA+ to AA. The AA rating is still considered a high mark in terms of the investment grade of the bonds, meaning S&P believes the state will meet its debt obligations.  While it is fair to say that […]

Aging, Technology Take Center Stage at 2017 Better Government Awards Gala

Last night, on an inspiring evening, against the backdrop of the beautiful Sail Boston parade of tall ships, Pioneer Institute held its annual Better Government Awards Gala. Longtime supporters and new friends gathered at the Boston Harbor Hotel to celebrate the country’s most innovative ideas to improve care for the aging, and leverage their skills in new […]

Community College Presidential Pay Raises Not Necessarily Based on Merit

Last year saw some of the highest recorded salaries for presidents of Massachusetts community colleges. The presidents of Greenfield, Bristol, Massasoit, Quinsigamond, and Mt Wachusett Community Colleges receive the highest, with annual earnings in the mid-$200,000 range.  These salaries are the result of rapid growth in the last five-to-six years. Compensation is generally based on […]

Spending on Students: How Does Groton Compare?

Massachusetts is known for the strength of its K-12 education.  US News & World Report recently ranked the commonwealth’s public-school districts.  Having grown up in Groton, I wanted to see the correlation between educational expenditures and school district performance in the town. How does Groton’s education spending compare to Massachusetts towns with similar demographics? How […]

How You Can Audit Massachusetts’ Pension Boards

Just recently Kathy Curran led an investigation into Massachusetts retirement boards’ wasteful use of public funds. Her investigative team found that while nearly all public retirement boards in Massachusetts are not on track to be fully funded for at least another decade, numerous boards have been treating themselves to expensive dinners, five-star hotel visits, and other […]

Closing Catholic Schools in Massachusetts Can Be Avoided

The Archdiocese of Boston recently announced that after operating for 93 years, the Saint Clement School in Medford will be closing its doors at the end of this school year due to a persistent decline in enrollment.  That means a multitude of students who believed they would be following the thousands before them as Saint […]

Groton’s Tax Base Dilemma

Among 15 peer municipalities, Groton’s commercial tax yield makes up a relatively small percentage of its total tax revenue and general government expenditures. In Groton and similar towns, how does developing a commercial tax base fare in terms of supporting local expenditures and moderating residential and personal property taxes?             MassAnalysis.com provides town-by-town data on […]

MA Colleges Spend Tens of Thousands in Taxpayer Money on Celebrity Commencement Speakers

Graduation season is in full swing, and as a hotbed of higher education, Greater Boston sees hundreds of thousands of students matriculate each spring. These festivities bring visiting parents, landscaped campuses, and, of course, commencement speakers. Celebrity speakers have long been a high-point at commencement ceremonies. Each year, politicians, academics, actors, musicians and CEOs get […]

Celebrating National Charter Public Schools Week

Great charter public schools are about great leadership. Charters in Massachusetts are the best in the country at bridging achievement gaps for our neediest students. They were authorized through the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act, authored by Bay State leaders like Governor William Weld, Senate President Tom Birmingham, and Representative Mark Roosevelt. They believe that […]

Pioneer is critical because UMass is critical

The University of Massachusetts system is critical to the future of the commonwealth’s economy, and that is why Pioneer started drawing attention to the finances of the five-campus system in the spring of 2016 through the release of its three-part series. With a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $3 billion, the UMass system is […]

So you want to know something about pensions?

Now anyone can become a local pension system expert…  A stitch in time saves nine. But how much will the hole unravel before the seamstress gets the call? We all know procrastination is a bad habit, but it’s far worse if the procrastinators are stewards of the public trust. For far too long, policy makers […]

Green Line Extension gets approval from Feds, but is this really the end of the headache?

The proposal to extend the MBTA’s Green Line from Lechmere into Somerville and Medford, which has been beset by obstacles at seemingly every turn, has finally taken an important step forward.  Part of an environmental mitigation commitment connected to the Big Dig, the Green Line Extension (GLX) initiative appeared to have been in serious jeopardy […]

Commemorating The 100th Anniversary Of U.S. Entry Into World War I

On Tuesday, April 4th, at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston, Pioneer Institute held a forum (see press release) with award-winning historians and history teachers marking the 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into the First World War. The event was co-sponsored by the United States World War I Centennial Commission, […]

Finance Committee & Town Meeting Members: Benchmarking Tools for the FY2018 Budget Season

Understanding how your community performs relative to its peers is critical in effectively scrutinizing municipal budgets. Pioneer Institute has reintroduced its FREE online tool, MassAnalysis, with the most up-to-date information available from the Department of Revenue and FBI to help you do just that. With a couple of clicks, you can develop a dashboard for your community […]