Entries by Charles Chieppo

OpEd: Shine a light upon MBTA pension fund

By Mary Z. Connaughton and Charles Chieppo Guest Columnists Originally published in The Berkshire Eagle, the Milford Daily News, New Bedford Standard-Times, and The Lowell Sun. It would be easy just to shake your head and turn the page upon learning that the MBTA Retirement Fund (MBTARF) is underfunded by nearly $868 million. Unfortunately, you cannot. Every year, the pension plan receives tens of millions of state dollars that flow through the MBTA. The T, in turn, has a contractual obligation to bankroll three quarters of any shortfall. Read this entire article in The Berkshire Eagle, the Milford Daily News and the New Bedford Standard-Times.

COMMENTARY: More is needed to fix the MBTA

Read this op-ed in The Patriot Ledger, the Brockton Enterprise, the Fall River Herald News, the Taunton Gazette, the Salem News, the Gloucester Times, and The MetroWest Daily News. The budget lawmakers sent to Gov. Charlie Baker includes important new powers to reform the beleaguered MBTA, but ensuring an effective transit system will require additional common-sense policy changes in a pending transportation bill. The budget created the Fiscal and Management Control Board that Baker proposed and gave the MBTA a three-year exemption from the commonwealth’s anti-privatization law. These steps may improve service for 1.3 million transit riders, but they are insufficient for the momentous task ahead. That job requires that legislators protect current and retired transit employees’ pensions, eliminate union […]

Analyzing the Convention Center Authority’s Inflated Claims

The analysis reveals that only eight events booked at the BCEC over the next 13 years – not 18 as the MCCA has claimed – have escape clauses that allow them to go elsewhere if expansion doesn’t go forward.  It also finds that despite claims that the facility would not be able to host the BIO conference again without expansion, the show is booked five times between 2021 and 2029 without expansion-related escape clauses. 

Boston Herald: New convention center math

This article was published in the Boston Herald on June 9, 2014. Author: Charles Chieppo Rarely is state government’s dysfunction on display more than in the waning days of a legislative session. This time around, exhibit A is the rush to approve a $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) despite enough red flags to fill the quarter-mile-long building. Apparently the $620 million the Massachusetts Convention Center Authorityclaims the BCEC and the Hynes Convention Centers pumped into the local economy last year makes it easy to set aside doubts. But a closer look at how the MCCA arrives at that estimate makes you realize why there are no real numbers in the convention industry. Convention centers are […]

WGBH News Commentary: Does Expanding The Convention Center Make Economic Sense?

By CHARLES CHIEPPO Date: April 10, 2014 Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of doubling the size of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). But two things are indisputable: The expansion would not, as the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) claims, pay for itself, and the convention industry is one that remains mired in decline. The original 1997 convention center finance plan levied a series of taxes, including a rental car surcharge, an additional tax on hotels in Boston and Cambridge and on tourist trolleys, to fund BCEC construction. Once BCEC bonds are paid off in 2034, those tax receipts could revert to the commonwealth. But expansion would push back the date when tax receipts could revert to the […]

Does Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Expansion Really Pay for Itself?

With the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) claiming that no new taxes or fees would be needed to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), it came as no surprise that a $1 billion convention center expansion bill sailed through a November Joint Committee on State Administration hearing without opposition. But when something seems too good to be true, it usually is, and a closer look at the convention center legislation reveals that the “no new taxes or fees” claim isn’t quite as airtight as they’ve led us to believe.

Massachusetts’ Technology Tax an Unnecessary Detour

Governor Patrick now concedes it was a bad idea and it appears that the so-called tech tax will be repealed. Repeal will leave a $160 million hole in state transportation funding. But that hole need not be filled exclusively by new revenue. It can be filled by savings, revenue, or a combination of the two, and Pioneer Institute research shows there are plenty of savings to be had from a series of reforms.

Lowering the Bar to Get a Passing Grade

Southern New England School of Law (SNESL) is a regionally accredited law school located in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1981 and unsuccessfully sought American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation in 1997 and again in 1999.

Accountability Overboard

Special interest groups opposed to charter schools and highstakes testing have hijacked the state’s once-independent board of education and stand poised to water down the MCAS tests and the accountability system they support.

Equal Treatment for All!

Just returned from a packed State House hearing on charter schools, which included enough material to fuel the blogosphere for the foreseeable future.   Due to the number of people wishing to testify, the education committee was unusually strict about enforcing a three-minute limit on individual testimony — which led to my personal favorite moment of the afternoon.  Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton),  the most unquestioning of public employee union supporters, railed against inequality, claiming charter schools call themselves public but are more like privates in their entrance requirements.  The alarm marking the end of his three minutes sounded.  Undaunted, he continued — this time accusing charters of busing people to the hearing and feeding them with public funds.  After all, the same rules should apply to everyone. The […]

Massachusetts’ Privatization Law: Necessary Guardrail or Roadblock to Competition?

Massachusetts is home to the most restrictive state privatization law in the nation. Since the so-called Pacheco law was enacted in 1993, only six state services have been contracted out to private service providers, while similar efforts have dramatically expanded in other jurisdictions. A Pioneer Forum on competitive contracting was held to mark the release of a new White Paper “Competition and Goverment Services: Can Massachusetts Still Afford the Pacheco Law?” Speakers included two co-authors of the paper, Geoffrey Segal and Adrian Moore of the Reason Public Policy Institute, Senator Marc Pacheco, author of the law, John Parsons, general counsel and director of privatization for the state auditor’s office, and Charles Chieppo of Pioneer’s Shamie Center for Restructuring Government. The remarks of each are excerpted below.

MBTA Capital Spending: Derailed by Expansion?

Pioneer Institute partnered with the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation on a study finding the MBTA cannot afford any of its planned expansion projects without additional state funding. Speaking at a forum on the study’s release were Michael Widmer, MTF president; Charles Chieppo, director of the Shamie Center for Restructuring Government at Pioneer; Thomas Finneran, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; James Scanlon, the Commonwealth’s acting secretary of transportation; and David Luberoff, associate director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The remarks of each are excerpted below.