Entries by Cole Kroninger

Signs of Growth in Several Gateway Cities

It’s safe to say that Boston is the economic hub of Massachusetts and will be for the foreseeable future. However, a number of cities have the potential to boost the Commonwealth’s economy in the long-run. These communities, known as “gateway cities”, were once home to booming industries that have since left; but what these industries left behind can become the foundations for another wave of economic development. Gateway cities have struggled both economically and socially over the past several decades. In fact, two characteristics that originally defined these cities were rates of educational attainment and median household incomes below the state average. While these issues persist, some communities are showing notable signs of growth, the first of which is rising […]

How Do Massachusetts’s State Pensions Compare with Their Peers?

For those who have kept up with Pioneer’s work on pensions, it’s clear that Massachusetts’s public retirement systems are troubled. However, readers still may wonder how these systems compare to those in other states.  Unfortunately, a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that the Commonwealth’s state-run pensions are underperforming relative to other states. This is especially concerning given that, as a whole, public pension systems nationwide are considerably underfunded. Using data from 2017 — “the most recent year for which comprehensive data were available for all 50 states” — the report found that the average funded ratio of state-run pensions was 69.1%. At just 59.9% in 2017, the funded ratio of Massachusetts was almost 10 percentage points below the […]

A Follow-up on Pension Systems with the Highest Growth Rates in Unfunded Liability

As Pioneer has previously discussed, Massachusetts continues to kick the can down the road with regard to its public pension liabilities. Legislators and municipalities have not only delayed the funding schedules of these pension systems, but have also back-loaded them, leaving the bulk of debt amortization for the future, while only paying small amounts now. In a recent blog, Pioneer covered the three public pension systems with the highest growth rates in unfunded liability: Adams, Marblehead, and Winchester. Given the alarming increases, we wanted to see if these pension systems were making steps towards improvement– namely, if they planned to tackle their debt now rather than later. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. Using MassPensions.com, one can […]

MassPensions: Three Highest Growth Rates in Unfunded Pension Liability

It’s no secret that Massachusetts’s public pension systems are following a dangerous path. At both the state and local levels, officials have allowed unfunded pension liabilities to grow at unsustainable rates. According to a recent Pioneer study, unfunded liabilities of the state’s three retirement systems grew by 196% between 2003 and 2017.  Most of the state’s 106 pension systems are not projected to be fully funded for another 10 to 20 years and taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for these questionably managed funds. Pensioners would be right to question if their benefits may someday be reduced. Ultimately, Massachusetts’s unfunded pension liabilities could hinder the state’s long-term economic growth, should investors believe that the only viable fix is a tax […]

MassPensions: Highest Reductions in Unfunded Liabilities

Despite the overall dismal performance of Massachusetts’s public pensions, there are systems that have done a noteworthy job of reducing their unfunded liability. For taxpayers who contribute to these systems and public employees who benefit from them, this is great news. It means they are less likely to see tax hikes and/or reduced benefits. It’s also great news for future generations who are less likely to have to shoulder the burden of their predecessors’ debt. While improvements of any kind are praiseworthy, there are a few pension systems that stand-out for significant progress in reducing their unfunded liability. Here are the public pensions with the largest decreases in unfunded liability over the past several years, according to MassPensions:   Leominster […]

MassPensions: The Leaders and Laggards among Massachusetts Public Pension Systems

As detailed in a recent study published by the Pioneer Institute, Massachusetts continues to put off fully funding its public pension plans. This is especially concerning since the interest that accrues from deferred payments dramatically increases the amount taxpayers ultimately have to pay.   To help inform citizens about the current status of the state’s 106 public pension systems, Pioneer’s MassPensions.com has graded each system. The main factor contributing to the grades is the expected year in which systems are projected to be fully funded. An “A” indicates that a system’s pension liability will be fully funded in less than 4 years, while an “F” indicates that it will be over 20 years before full funding is achieved. It is important to note that MassPensions has used the most recent data, which is from […]