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The Great Mismatch: The graduated income tax proposal’s gravely flawed escalation factor

The state constitutional amendment proposed by the Service Employees International Union and the Massachusetts Teachers Association to add a 4 percent surtax to all annual income above $1 million purports to use cost-of-living-based bracket adjustments as a safeguard that will ensure only millionaires will pay. But historic income growth trends suggest that bracket creep will cause many non-millionaires to be subject to the surtax over time, according to this report, “The Great Mismatch: The graduated income tax proposal’s gravely flawed escalation factor.”

Missing the Mark on Wealth Migration: Past Studies Drastically Undercounted Millionaires

Advocates of a constitutional amendment that would apply a 4 percent tax on all annual individual income over $1 million argue that similar taxes in other states have had little impact on the migration of millionaires, citing the research of Cornell University Associate Professor Cristobal Young, which suggests that “millionaires’ taxes” enacted in other states similar to the one being proposed in Massachusetts have had little impact on millionaire mobility. This paper demonstrates that he drastically undercounts millionaires, and outlines several ways in which he and tax advocates underestimate the number of people who will at some point in their lives be subject to a so-called millionaire’s tax and tax flight trends.

Lessons for Massachusetts from California’s “blank check” tax on high earners

Advocates claim a proposed 4 percent surtax on high earners will raise nearly $2 billion per year for education and transportation, but similar tax hikes in other states resulted in highly discretionary rather than targeted spending. That same result or worse is possible in Massachusetts because during the 2019 constitutional convention state legislators rejected — not just one, but two — proposed amendments requiring that the new revenues be directed to these purposes. After a 2012 tax hike in California aimed to increase education investments, the state legislature dedicated little more than the minimum required by law to education and redirected the majority of the funds to general government operations. The result was a soaring state payroll.

Do The Wealthy Migrate Away From High-Tax States? A Comparison of Adjusted Gross Income Changes in Massachusetts and Florida

Massachusetts had a net outflow of $20.7 billion in adjusted gross income (AGI) between 1993 and 2018. The biggest beneficiaries of the wealth that fled the Commonwealth were Florida, which captured 47.5 percent of it, and New Hampshire, which captured 26.1 percent. Between 2012 and 2018, Florida saw a net AGI inflow of $88.9 billion. Affluent taxpayers are responsible for an outsized proportion of state tax revenue. The data also show a strong correlation between state taxes and migration. States like Florida and New Hampshire that have no state income tax have seen a net inflow of AGI from higher-tax states like Massachusetts. 

Connecticut’s Dangerous Game: How the Nation’s Wealthiest State Scared Off Businesses and Worsened Its Fiscal Crisis

This report presents evidence that Connecticut’s embrace of an aggressive tax policy to pay for ballooning government expenditures — including a sharp corporate tax rate increase — has been a major driver in the loss of bedrock employers. Higher corporate tax rates, combined with hikes in the personal income tax and, especially, the estate tax, also appear to be a factor driving away a growing number of the state’s wealthiest residents.

Massachusetts is in the middle of a budget crisis. So why is it still subsidizing out-of-state horse owners?

In 2021, the Massachusetts legislature will consider raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals to finance social services in the Commonwealth during a challenging budget season. Proponents claim such an approach is necessary to avoid cuts to crucial services like healthcare and education.  Meanwhile, there are a number of state government programs that defy sound fiscal sense. Unlike raising taxes on the wealthy, it’s often politically difficult to cut these programs because a small group of people depend on the subsidies they provide for their livelihoods, paid for by the rest of the populace. Take the horse breeding industry as an example. A recent update to MassOpenBooks.org, a government transparency data tool operated by Pioneer Institute, shows that Massachusetts has […]

To Keep Worcester’s Polar Park Project Alive during COVID-19, Focus on the Community

While COVID-19 has halted sporting events across the world, it’s also thrown a wrench in franchises’ future plans. The Boston Red Sox’ triple-A affiliate was in the midst of relocating from Pawtucket, Rhode Island to Worcester, Massachusetts when the pandemic struck. COVID-19 has led to construction delays of the new stadium in Worcester, Polar Park, and left plans for the 2021 season in flux. Now, a group of Eastern Connecticut State University students are working to make sure that, during an uncertain time for their team and sports in general, the WooSox have their priorities straight.    During this fall’s Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition, Nikita Biahliak, James Callaghan, and Keira Integlia won 2nd […]

Pioneer recognizes students’ thoughtful approach to stadium financing, adjacent redevelopment in Worcester

Even as the construction of Polar Park, a new minor league baseball stadium in Worcester, Massachusetts, was plagued by cost overruns, Worcester city officials aimed to use “no existing city tax revenue…to fund the ballpark construction.” Instead, they would essentially pay for the nearly-$100 million project by levying additional property taxes on adjacent development that was slated to sprout up around the new stadium. But as COVID-19 has dampened demand for hotel rooms and office space, and the developer has revised estimates for the apartments’ completion dates and market values, the stadium’s financing could look very different going forward.         This fall’s Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition asked students to craft adaptive solutions to […]

A Snapshot of Massachusetts’ Construction Industry during a Decade-long Building Boom

In “A Snapshot of Massachusetts’ Construction industry during a Decade-long Building Boom,” data from 1998 through 2018 show variations in employment and the number of businesses within the construction industry throughout Massachusetts. The report even includes a map of employment concentration in the construction industry by town.

A Checklist for How to Revitalize the Industries Hit Hardest by COVID-19

This checklist combines the recommendations of studies published earlier this year offering recommendations for policy makers, organized in three sections: Immediate Relief, Tax Policy Changes and Permanent Reforms.  Business owner recommendations are split into COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, Expanded Services and Steps to Improve Cash Flow.

Before COVID-19, the Hospitality & Food Industry was a Service Sector Economic Powerhouse

A new report from Pioneer Institute, “Before COVID-19, the Hospitality & Food Industry was a Service Sector Economic Powerhouse,” draws data from the MassEconomix web tool to analyze Hospitality and Food Industry employment across the state. Data spanning two decades from 1998 through 2018 show fluctuations in employment, firm size, and the share of businesses within the Hospitality and Food Industry throughout Massachusetts. The report shows a map of employment concentration in the Hospitality and Food Industry by town.

Targeted government help for small business is needed

Covid-19 will frame economic policy discussions for years to come, just as the Great Recession did a decade ago. The economic impact of the pandemic includes widespread job losses, and millions of Americans are at risk of falling into poverty. Covid-19 is also accelerating pre-existing market trends – such as automation and online shopping – and their potentially devastating impact on the thousands of small businesses vulnerable to these market shifts. Will these businesses be able to adapt?

Economic Revitalization and Reinvention in Lowell, 1998-2018

In “Economic Revitalization and Reinvention in Lowell, 1998-2018,” two decades of data show fluctuations in employment, firm size, and the share of businesses throughout various sectors in Lowell. Manufacturing tops the list of industries to add the most jobs in Lowell from 2008-2018, with Education and Health Care also comfortably outpacing other industries. It’s unclear how exactly COVID-19 will affect these trends in the long-term. Download the report here: Economic Revitalization and Reinvention in Lowell, 1998-2018

In light of COVID-19, Massachusetts should rethink its convention center bureaucracy

Right before commercial real estate values in the U.S. started plummeting earlier this year, Massachusetts officials seemed to finally come to a consensus over the proposed sale of the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay. Privatization of the Back Bay property was slated to fund a 200,000-square foot expansion of another state-owned convention center, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center or “BCEC.” Now, Boston’s weak commercial real estate market renders this plan entirely unappealing, largely because the Hynes probably couldn’t fetch its full Fiscal Year 2020 value of $176 million.   Moreover, during a deadly pandemic, it hardly makes sense to pour more public funds into indoor spaces that rely on large crowds to make money, especially when their […]

How do other countries avoid COVID infections as they loosen international travel restrictions?

For most of America, reopening the economy after COVID-19 means being able to go to a barbershop, a local gym, or restaurant – all relatively mundane activities that happen to involve small crowds of strangers gathering in an enclosed space. But for some major cities, it means much more: a return to hosting large, touristy recreational events, international business conferences, and gubernatorial summits. In terms of public health protocol, the main difference between a barber shop and a major business expo (besides the size of the event, attire of the attendees, and number of TV cameras present) is that businesspeople are often willing to travel far and wide to attend prominent conferences. With this point of contrast comes a moral […]

The Long View: A Public Policy Roadmap for Saving Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Recovery Period

As the initial economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed, a new study from Pioneer Institute finds that governments must continue to provide short-term relief to stabilize small businesses as they simultaneously consider longer-term reforms to hasten and bolster recovery – all while facing a need to shore up public sector revenues.

Announcing the Fall 2020 Pioneer/Nichols Sports Management Policy College Case Competition

In recognition of the continued concerns COVID-19 poses to the sports management industry, particularly as many professional sports resume play in some capacity, Pioneer Institute has partnered with Nichols College to provide undergraduate college students an opportunity to solve problems pertinent to the present COVID-19 crisis in a rewarding, competitive format.    The Institute is working to facilitate the adaptation of professional sports leagues to these challenging times for the benefit of the many communities, businesses, and individuals that depend on economic activity and personal enrichment from their activities. Keeping sports leagues viable during a global pandemic can be extremely challenging, and we believe this issue deserves more attention in advance of a potential resurgence of COVID-19 later in the […]

Drawing on State Guidelines to Keep Youth Baseball Alive during COVID-19

Since Major League Baseball finalized its reopening plans in late June, over 100 players have tested positive for COVID-19, throwing into jeopardy the prospect of completing a baseball season, however short, during a global pandemic. Now, a team of University of Massachusetts students are working to make sure that youth baseball organizations across the country aren’t put into the same quandary.    During this year’s Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition, Alvin He, Xinran Liu, and Minying Zhou won 2nd place for a policy proposal discussing adaptations little league players, coaches, and parents can make to stay safe while continuing to participate in America’s national pastime.    In particular, the UMass students suggest that athletes […]

Youth Basketball and COVID-19: Preparing an Indoor Winter Sport for a Global Pandemic

With a COVID-19 vaccine’s widespread availability still estimated to be sometime in 2021, the world faces a long winter in which the coronavirus will likely continue disrupting our daily lives by reshaping the realm of physical activity. Many of the most prevalent impacts of this ongoing hardship will be borne by children, whose physical and emotional development is greatly aided by participating in team sports.         This year’s Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition sought policy-driven adaptive solutions that will allow youth to continue participating in these sports even during a public health crisis. The winning team, consisting of Isabella Nerney, Dylan Pella, Adam Phillips, and Shannon St. Lawrence, all undergraduates at Nichols College, has […]

Pioneer wants to know how many people with dementia have died in Massachusetts nursing homes. State government can’t even tell us how many people live in them. 

Last month, Pioneer Institute sent a public records request to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) asking for data on the population of the state’s long-term care facilities. The goal was to determine whether COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people with serious pre-existing conditions particular to the old and frail, such as dementia. Pioneer was extremely disappointed with the response sent to us by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), which potentially revealed shocking gaps in information on the facilities that the agency oversees.    Specifically, Pioneer asked for the following: The number of residents of long-term care facilities in Massachusetts as of February 29, 2020  The number of residents of long-term care facilities in Massachusetts […]

Public Policy Guide for Economic Recovery from COVID-19 in the Retail and Hospitality Sectors

This new guide to economic recovery in the retail and hospitality industries published by Pioneer Institute calls for the federal and state governments to consider consumption-based refundable tax credits for brick and mortar businesses; the federal government to conduct a detailed study of the costs and benefits of suspending employer-side payroll taxes; businesses to pay special attention to developing and marketing their cleanliness, hygiene and contactless procedures; and third-party customer review sites to include comments about the implementation of COVID safety measures to provide options and reassurance to safety-minded consumers.

Open Letter: COVID-19 Study and Recommendations Task Force established pursuant to Massachusetts Bill H.4672

Recently, Governor Baker signed legislation, H. 4672, that would create a Covid-19 task force, appointed by the legislature,  to study and make recommendations to the general court that address health disparities among certain populations based on certain characteristics, including age, and which also asks the future task force to recommend other impacted populations for further study.  Pioneer has prepared a public letter to that future task force that contains a list of specific recommendations regarding Covid-19 and the state’s nursing homes. 

Announcing the Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition

In recognition of the cancellation of many student internships for summer 2020, especially those in the sports management industry held concurrently with major sporting events, Pioneer Institute has partnered with Nichols College to provide undergraduate college students an opportunity to solve problems pertinent to the present COVID-19 crisis in a rewarding, competitive format.    The Institute is working to facilitate the adaptation of youth sports leagues to these challenging times for the benefit of our children’s physical and mental wellbeing. Enforcing cleanliness procedures among young athletes can be extremely challenging, and we believe this issue deserves more attention in advance of a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall.    Youth sports are used to teach children interpersonal communication, discipline, […]

As the COVID-19 Pandemic Spurs Consumer Shift to E-Commerce, the Massachusetts Sales Tax Collection System Deserves Renewed Scrutiny

At a time when state tax revenues are plummeting, a plan to modernize sales tax collection could get money into state coffers more quickly. This report analyzes the merits of a two-part proposal Governor Baker included in his January state budget submission to streamline state sales tax collections. Sullivan and Mikula find that the first part of Baker’s plan makes sense and is entirely feasible because advances in electronic data processing and electronic funds transfer have eliminated the need for protracted remittance timetables.

Even for the most remote part of Massachusetts (Franklin County), it’s far from business as usual

The Connecticut River valley is home to some of the most productive agricultural land in New England, and rural Franklin County, Massachusetts has some visible agricultural traditions. The county seat of Greenfield alone is home to several tree farms, a livestock producer, and a composting service.   At the same time, Franklin County is a poster child for the decades-long trend of declining agricultural and manufacturing jobs across the country, and COVID-19 has thrown an additional wrench into the county’s initiative to reshape its economic identity to emphasize tourism and the arts. The area’s patchwork of small towns has created an economic landscape that’s hard to categorize, as exhibited by the lack of a strong presence of any given industry […]