Pioneer Institute presents its 2021 Annual Report,
“New Capacities, Accelerating Impact.”
Total Media Reach
Total Downloads of Pioneer Research in 2020
Publications: Research Papers, Policy Briefs, Testimony, & Event Transcripts
Media Hits: Articles, Interviews, & Editorials in Newspapers, Trade Journals, TV, & Radio in Massachusetts & Across the Nation
Events featuring Pioneer
Average Attendees per Pioneer Event
willingness to hear
this Maine case…
holds the promise
of furthering our
vision of schooling
firmly grounded in
– Jamie Gass, Associated Press
Aided by Pioneer’s research…
- The Supreme Court, in its landmark Espinoza decision, severely weakened barriers to religiously affiliated school choice, and has heard a second pivotal school choice case, Carson v. Makin.
- Nearly 22 states, targeted by Pioneer and its energetic outreach, have passed laws to expand or establish private school choice
- Massachusetts Catholic and Jewish day schools received a $3.8 million settlement in special education funding wrongfully denied to them by the state education
- Catholic school enrollment in Boston grew by 4,000 students, and by 14 percent across Massachusetts.
- Governor Baker announced an additional $18 million to expand vocational-technical education.
Advancing the Rights and Liberties of Religious Parents
The landmark 2020 Supreme Court decision, Espinoza v. Department of Revenue, dealt a major blow to Blaine amendment barriers to school choice in 40 states, and the Court is set to hear a similar case, Carson v. Makin, brought by parents in Maine who were denied state tuition assistance for local, faith-based
schools. Pioneer filed an amicus brief which has played a key role in
developing the fact base for the plaintiffs’ counsel at the Institute for Justice, and helped publicize it through its podcast, a virtual policy briefing with the plaintiff’s lead counsel, and media appearances in RealClearPolicy and the Associated Press.
Pioneer is also working with Catholic and Jewish Day school leaders, actively seeking plaintiffs to litigate on Massachusetts’ special education laws and regulations, as state officials continue to use anti-aid amendments to discriminate against religious school students and families. Pioneer’s research estimated that up to $300 million in federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding was improperly withheld from these schools over several years. The Institute joined forces with religious groups on follow-up research, paired with a webinar, that revealed similar behavior in other districts across the country. This information and advocacy helped these Massachusetts schools win a $3.8 million settlement.
The “Year of School Choice”
2021 has been called the “Year of School Choice,” after nearly 22 states passed laws to expand or establish private choice programs, including vouchers, education tax credits, and education savings accounts.
Pioneer is proud of its role in that wave, with the launch of an education tax credit scholarship toolkit, authored by EdChoice’s Jason Bedrick. Paired with an animated explainer video, website, and social media campaign garnering nearly 200,000 views and 2.5 million impressions across all platforms, it was targeted at policymakers, advocates, and church groups in ten of the states that won legislative victories. Bedrick was interviewed about the toolkit in The 74, a national education policy publication; and it was featured in RealClearEducation and WGBH.
Aided by Pioneer’s research…
- The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services recommended avoiding cost- effectiveness review methodologies because of the impact on people with disabilities and chronic conditions.
- State lawmakers in CT and MA have filed legislation rejecting these discriminatory practices.
- The Massachusetts legislature passed a bill to make permanent telehealth flexibility and other pandemic healthcare changes that removed bureaucratic barriers for thousands of physician practitioners.
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health made key transparency improvements to its reporting of Covid cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.
“The disconcerting aspect of ICER’s report is the authors’ obvious lack of knowledge about how businesses work. This is particularly troubling because ICER is based in Boston, the most important cluster of life sciences companies in the world.”
– William Smith, in RealClearHealth
Unleashing Life Saving Innovation
Biomedical innovations are transforming and extending human lives, and the U.S. leads the world in incubating new treatments for cancer, chronic illnesses, and rare diseases, as well as Covid-19 vaccine development. Pioneer’s work in the life sciences aims to support the policy environment that would foster these advancements, such as the elimination of regulatory barriers to future innovations and reimbursement options that drive innovation.
In 2021, Dr. William Smith published a report on the impact of cost-effectiveness methodologies such as the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) on cancer patients. The study generated nearly half a million social media impressions, largely among Washington, D.C. policy and healthcare influencer audiences. He also gave a briefing on Capitol Hill, and presented before the American Society
“With billions of dollars already migrating to New Hampshire under the Commonwealth’s current 5 percent income tax, imagine the wealth drain that would ensue were Massachusetts to adopt a top rate of 9 percent.” – JIM STERGIOS, THE BOSTON GLOBE
Getting Back to Work
Reliable and affordable transportation, whether on roads or rails, is essential to economic recovery and growth. Pioneer continues to advocate for a public transit system that operates efficiently and provides a safe and reliable commuting experience for the Bay State’s 1.3 million riders.
In 2021, after Pioneer released a statement objecting to major proposed service cuts, the MBTA board deferred voting on them. Two Pioneer studies published in 2019 recommended how to address the T’s chronic inability to spend available state and federal capital funds, noting that the system had left more than 40 percent of capital funds unspent from 2015–18. The MBTA has since implemented many of Pioneer’s ideas, and capital delivery has tripled.
Road congestion in the Bay State has long been an obstacle to attracting and retaining qualified workers, and will likely return to pre-Covid levels. Pioneer’s Mary Connaughton has been a leader in the effort to ensure that planned changes to the Allston I-90 Interchange have the least impact on drivers. In 2021, Pioneer won a victory when the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reversed its original position and decided to move forward with an all-at-grade design for the “throat” area, as Connaughton has been recommending for two years in research, op-eds in The Boston Globe and regional outlets, television and radio appearances, public testimony to MassDOT, and open letters to the Governor and other top policymakers.
Helping Hardest-Hit Industries
Pioneer’s 2020 studies on hardest-hit industries and sales tax collection included dozens of specific recommendations aimed at helping businesses in retail, restaurant, hospitality and other sectors recover from the pandemic shutdown. Many of those ideas came to fruition in 2021. Governor Baker included a provision in the $626 million economic development package that limits commissions that companies such as Grubhub and DoorDash can charge restaurants. He announced a plan to invest in broadband internet in underserved areas with low-income residents. He also signed into law a modernization that will speed up the timetable for sales tax
remittance and collection from large businesses, at a time when state sales tax revenue was plummeting. In addition, Pioneer called for the legislature to stop delaying implementation of the charitable tax deduction that was supposed to go into effect in 2020. The Governor relaunched an effort to keep the legislature from again deferring it.
Massachusetts voters will decide in November whether to formally classify “gig workers,” such as Uber and Lyft drivers, as independent contractors. Thousands are employed in the Commonwealth, many from immigrant communities, and they enjoy the flexibility to make their own schedule. Pioneer will work to support them and educate the public about the impact of this measure.
COVID19 Vaccine Tracker
Pioneer is proud to present a new vaccine tracker, the newest tool in our COVID-19 tracking project. Pioneer distilled the vaccination data down to those who are either fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated, by all the demographic categories published by the DPH. Use the new tool below to compare rates among groups, by municipality and by county. We will update the data every week. Click here to visit our COVID 19 Vaccine Tracker.
COVID Tracker for Long-Term Care Facilities
With so many deaths occurring at long-term care facilities, in Massachusetts and other states, Pioneer has added a new COVID-19 tracker, with data from the state’s weekly Public Health Report. This data includes any nursing home, rehabilitation center or other long-term care facility with 2+ known COVID-19 cases and facility-reported deaths. This tracker includes the number of licensed beds, ranges of case numbers, deaths, and deaths per bed for 320 facilities. Pioneer will update the tracker weekly. Click here to visit our Long-Term Care Facility COVID Tracker.
Mapping COVID-19 in Massachusetts Cities & Towns
View the count & rate (per 100,000) of confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Massachusetts by City/Town, updated each Thursday. Click here to use our Mapping COVID19 tool.
COVID Unemployment Tracker
Pioneer’s new tool, called “COVID Unemployment Tracker,” provides an interactive look at how economic shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting jobs and lives across the state of Massachusetts. Click here to use our COVID19 Unemployment Tracker.
MASS Report Cards
Find out how your local public schools perform and compare them with districts across the state. Click here to visit Mass Report Cards.
Mass Open Books
Find out what state employees earn, how much state retirees are receiving in pension benefits and what the payments are to the people and companies that do business with the state. Click here to visit Mass Open Books.
Explore job and business trends across Massachusetts, geographically and by industry. Click here to visit Mass Economix.
Ranking the states on Statements of Financial Interest (public financial disclosures). Click here to use our Financial Disclosure Tool.
Are you a local official that wants a way to benchmark your community against its peers or are you a resident that want to know more about your town’s finances? The information you need will be at your fingertips in just a few clicks. Click here to Mass Analysis.
Why re-invent the wheel? Visit this innovative clearinghouse where best municipal practices are shared by local leaders and thinkers. Our document archive may have just the answer you’ve been looking for! Click here to visit Muni Share.
Learn how much debt your community’s public pension system is saddled with and how many years it will take to repay it. We’ve graded each of the state’s 105 public pension systems – what grade did your town get? Click here to visit Mass Pensions.
Learn how the MBTA’s performance stacks up against its peer transit agencies. Which agency is the most efficient? Do some modes of transit perform better than others? How can the MBTA improve? Find out here. Click here to visit MBTA Analysis.
Recommendations for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu
Pioneer executive director Jim Stergios sent an open letter to newly elected Mayor Michelle Wu, offering to serve as a “constructive partner in generating ideas, sharing data and policy experience,” and outlining the Institute’s top priorities, with a focus on turning around the Boston Public Schools. In the run-up to the election, Jamie Gass and Pioneer Senior Fellow Charlie Chieppo published an op-ed in Commonwealth magazine calling attention to the school district’s deplorable condition, noting that “over 30 percent of the system’s students attend schools ranked in the bottom 10 percent statewide.” They pointed to a 2020 audit that prompted calls for state intervention, and demanded reforms to improve accountability.
Chieppo also appeared on WBUR’s Radio Boston and partnered on an op- ed with Cicero Institute’s Judge Glock, to address the controversial “Mass and Cass” homeless encampments that were growing into a humanitarian crisis. Their policy solutions included expanding access to treatment facilities for those with mental illness and drug addiction, and endorsed Mayor Wu’s decision to enforce the public camping ban.
In 2022, the Institute is launching a separate 501c3, PioneerLegal, New England’s premier nonprofit, non-partisan, public interest law firm that defends and promotes educational options, accountable government, and economic opportunity through legal research, amicus briefs, and litigation. PioneerLegal will be a powerful addition to the policy landscape— and an innovative and attractive venue for legal professionals across the region.
Pioneer understands the urgency of communicating its message to ever broader audiences.
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