Entries by Aidan Enright

The Necessity of Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting: MA Provides a Shining Example

Revenue collections, predicted revenue, and expenditures are among the most important data points states report. Without accurate predictions and regular reporting, the legislature and governor’s office may go over or under budget, potentially leaving citizens and policymakers in the dark about the fiscal health of the state.

For this reason, all states regularly report those numbers and update estimates based on trends, overall economic conditions, and expected changes as a result of new state policies. However, even among the New England states, the transparency and accessibility of such reporting varies greatly and, as a result, limits analysts’ ability to meaningfully compare state revenues and judge performance in real time.

Skill-based immigration could ease labor shortage

A recent Biden administration executive order that amends the Schedule A list, which identifies occupations experiencing labor shortages and allows immigrants in those occupations to expedite their employment in the U.S., could positively impact the hiring of skilled international workers for years to come — a welcome development as the country and Massachusetts struggle to attract talent amidst a worsening labor shortage.

The Crux at the Center of Childcare Affordability

In recent years the cost of childcare has skyrocketed in Massachusetts, contributing to the state being one of the least affordable places to raise a child in the country. At the center of the problem are three structural issues: rigid unnecessary government regulations that seek to ensure quality and safety but oftentimes significantly increase costs and decrease the supply of providers without a proportional benefit; high labor costs and the inability to increase the productivity of workers limiting the profitability of providers; and the demands of high income parents to outfit providers with every available perk. State policymakers often see subsidies as the best solution, but while transferring the cost to taxpayers subsidies do little to address the structural supply constraints at the crux of the affordability crisis.

Massachusetts Split Property Tax Rates – Considerations for the Current Economic Climate

Many taxing jurisdictions distinguish among the various property types and treat them differently. Common property classifications include: residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural.

A majority of states, some 60 percent, use some kind of classification, but those classifications vary in scope and effective tax burden (i.e., the actual amount of tax paid after credits, deductions and other changes are taken into account.) Classifications are also operationalized differently among states. Some use a set rate for different types of properties and others use a ratio of assessment and market values.

The Massachusetts Lottery Seeks Expansion

The Massachusetts Lottery is once again expanding, offering a new $50 dollar scratch ticket. Members of the House and Governor Healey have also backed a proposed FY24 budget provision creating an online lottery, or iLottery. While these measures are predicted to boost the state’s revenue and ability to provide local aid, state legislators should ask themselves whether these new changes represent sound public policy and align with other policies goals.

A Model for Occupational Licensing Reform in the Bay State

Licensing for many professions squeezes the supply of services, artificially inflating prices and creating wage premiums. One study from the Institute for Justice put the wage premium relative to an environment without any occupational licensing at a whopping 22 percent in Massachusetts.

A History of Rent Control Policy in Massachusetts

While many may only remember the 1994 referendum and the laws that gave rise to it, rent control policies – and opposition to them – stretch back more than a century in Massachusetts. The laws themselves varied widely from era to era, but the reasons for them – housing shortages and a lack of affordability – have been consistent. State and local lawmakers have each seen rent control as a way for the government to mandate affordability in the housing market. Yet, as tempting as price controls have been, every policy of its kind has eventually gone out of favor. Often the result of those policies’ negative externalities, like housing disrepair; reductions in supply; gentrification; and the misallocation of rental […]

Corporate Ownership: A Threat to Housing Affordability?

An increase in corporate ownership of housing has some experts worried about potential consequences of such a shift. One study found a link between LLC ownership and housing stock that is in disrepair, with more rapid deterioration than would be expected if ownership had not changed.

Licensing burdens thwart economic growth in Massachusetts

Immigrants account for 17% of Massachusetts residents but start a quarter of the Commonwealth’s new businesses. These entrepreneurs could create even more jobs that further lift wages and standard of living if not for the unnecessary obstacle of restrictive state and local occupational licensing laws.

The Debate Over Rent Control Re-Emerges Amid Housing Crisis

There is a housing crisis in the Bay State, a fact unlikely to surprise many of the state’s residents. Massachusetts consistently ranks as one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country, right up there with infamously unaffordable places such as New York and California. The state ranks poorly on several measures of comparative costs, including utilities, groceries, transportation, and healthcare. But the cost that takes up the highest percentage of residents’ income is housing. Rents and the cost of the average home have skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic, hardly cooling as mortgage rates have risen. According to Census Bureau survey data, the median rent paid by Massachusetts renters in 2020 was $1336, nearly $500 […]

Where Are All the Workers?

Labor shortages are front and center once again this holiday season as Bay Staters make their way to retail stores for gift shopping. Help wanted signs line store windows, the occasional store is closed during hours when it would otherwise be open, and lines and waits seem longer as shorthanded staff try to accommodate the number of shoppers. This has become a common story since the onset of the pandemic and it persists even now, long after virtually all COVID restrictions have ended. According to the most recent data from the Federal Reserve, over 10.3 million jobs remain unfilled in the U.S. That’s down from the record high of 11.9 million in March of this year but five times what […]

Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the Barriers They Face: An Academic Literature Review

Immigrants have started a quarter of all businesses in Massachusetts despite making up just 17 percent of the state workforce, and those establishments appear to be more innovative than those founded by native-born Americans. Despite these contributions, shrinking federal visa caps and red tape are among the factors making it more difficult for immigrants to come to the U.S.