Entries by Editorial Staff

Leaving Money on the Table: The 106 Pension Funds of Massachusetts

Author: Ken Ardon The focus of this paper is the choice that local retirement boards have of managing their own investors or investing all or a portion of their assets in PRIT. Most local boards choose to retain control of their investments. In 2004, 55 out of the 104 local systems invested entirely on their own, 29 had some assets invested in PRIT or the PRIT seg- mentation program, and only 20 invested entirely with PRIT. Leaving Money on the Table: The 106 Pension Systems of Massachusetts Public Employee Benefits Series: Part 2

The Elephant in the Room: Unfunded Public Employee Health Care Benefits & GASB 45

Authors: Eric S. Berman, CPA, Deputy Comptroller, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Elizabeth K. Keating, CPA, Ph.D, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School, Harvard University This paper will review Statement 45’s potential impact on governments and review existing disclosures in financial reports as well as bond offering statements. The paper will discuss the Statement’s impact on budgets and governmental operations, including collective bargaining. Funding options under Statement 45 will be detailed, including the advantages and disadvan- tages of irrevocable trusts and OPEB bonds. The paper will also discuss the impact of Medicare Part D subsidies received by governments, as well as the bond rating implications of policy decisions surrounding OPEB. Finally, the paper will discuss case law that has already come […]

Leaving Money on the Table: The 106 Pension Funds of Massachusetts

Author: Ken Ardon The focus of this paper is the choice that local retirement boards have of managing their own investors or investing all or a portion of their assets in PRIT. Most local boards choose to retain control of their investments. In 2004, 55 out of the 104 local systems invested entirely on their own, 29 had some assets invested in PRIT or the PRIT seg- mentation program, and only 20 invested entirely with PRIT. Leaving Money on the Table: The 106 Pension Funds of Massachusetts

Long-Term Leasing of State Skating Rinks: A Competitive Contracting Success Story

Author: Susan Frechette This paper looks at the success of competitive contracting in addressing long-term cap- ital needs, reducing operating costs, and expanding access to state-owned skating rinks since the 1990s. It argues that the lessons learned from the experience can be applied notonly to other assets in recreation portfolio that are suffering from budget cuts and neglect, but also to many other services and activities that the Commonwealth has been performing directly. Long-Term Leasing of State Skating Rinks: A Competitive Contracting Success Story

Long-Term Leasing of State-Owned Skating Rinks: A Competitive Contracting Success Story

Author: Susan Frechette This paper looks at the success of competitive contracting in addressing long-term cap- ital needs, reducing operating costs, and expanding access to state-owned skating rinks since the 1990s. It argues that the lessons learned from the experience can be applied notonly to other assets in recreation portfolio that are suffering from budget cuts and neglect, but also to many other services and activities that the Commonwealth has been performing directly. Long-Term Leasing of State Skating Rinks: A Competitive Contracting Success Story

Regulation and the Rise of Housing Prices in Greater Boston: A study based on new data from 187 communities in eastern Massachusetts

This paper is part of the Initiative on Local Housing Regulation, a joint effort of the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research and Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. As part of this initiative, researchers at the Pioneer Institute and the Rappaport Institute have assembled and coded a database on zoning codes, subdivision requirements, and enviormental regulations that as of 2004 governed land use in 187 communities in eastern and central Massachusetts. The searchabl database is available at www.pioneerinst.wpengine.com/municipalregs/. The site also housing summary reports, analyses of the data, and a downloadable version in formats that can be used for economic analyses. In coming months, Pioneer Institute and the Rappaport Institute will also be issuing papers and policy briefs, […]

Residential Land-Use Regulation in Eastern Massachusetts: A Study of 187 Communities

Local housing regulations concerning zoning, road design and installation, and the environment play a fundamental role in housing development in Massachusetts. National studies have indicated that in some regions of the country, including Massachusetts, municipalities have used regulations to restrict the supply of housing, thus driving up prices. Since as far back as 1969, when Massachusetts policymakers passed Chapter 40B, the “Anti-Snob Zoning Ac,” policymakers have been concerned that municipal zoning does not allow the market to meet the range of housing needs, particularly for low-income households. More recently, “smart growth” advocates have argued that local regulations favorted low-desnsity residential development are causing the loss of forest and agricultural land in ecologically sensitive areas in Massachusetts. Yet, despite the persistence […]

Massachusetts Private School Survey: Gauging Capacity and Interest in Vouchers

If a voucher program were launched in Massachusetts, how many private schools would participate in the first year? How many seats would be initially available for eligible students? Would participating schools be located near the students most in need of a new schooling option? This paper takes up the practical question of whether sufficient private school seats would be availible for a coucher initiative to get off the ground in Massachusetts. To collect the necessary data, Pioneer Instittue designed and conducted a survey of the 524 private, K-12 non-special education schools in Massachusetts. One hundred ninety-four schools serving a total of 50,435 K-12 students responded to the survey, representing 37 percent of all K-12 non-special education private schools in Massachusetts […]

A Roadmap to Financing

Collaboration Between Springifled Community-Based Business Advisors, Citizens Bank, Hampden Bank and Westbank. This manual was prepared as part of the Urban Business Alliance (UBA) – a unique initiative of Pioneer’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship that helps low- and moderate- income entrepreneurs by bolstering the skills of the community-based business advisors they look for assistance. For more information about the program, please contact: Alla Yakovlev, Director, Pioneer’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship ayakovlev@pioneerinst.wpengine.com Elizabeth Thorton, Program Coordinator and CEO Entrenpreneurship Advantage, Inc., ehornton@entrepreneurship advantage.com[wpdm_package id=346]

Massachusetts Collaboratives: Making the Most of Education Dollars

BY M. CRAIG STANLEY, ED.D. Foreword by E. Robert Stephens Institute for Regional Studies in Education Educational service agencies (ESAs)—known as “educational collaboratives” in Massachusetts—have proven very efficient at providing high-quality education support services. By assuming many of the routine support functions required to run a public education system, educational service agencies free up the Commonwealth’s Department of Education to provide leadership and Massachusetts school districts to provide quality student instruction. Studies that compare the cost of the services provided by regional agencies to the cost of services provided by individual school districts demonstrate that regional ESAs produce substantial savings. Massachusetts Collaboratives: Making the Most of Education Dollars

Massachusetts Collaboratives: Making the Most of Education Dollars

BY M. CRAIG STANLEY, ED.D. Foreword by E. Robert Stephens Institute for Regional Studies in Education Educational service agencies (ESAs)—known as “educational collaboratives” in Massachusetts—have proven very efficient at providing high-quality education support services. By assuming many of the routine support functions required to run a public education system, educational service agencies free up the Commonwealth’s Department of Education to provide leadership and Massachusetts school districts to provide quality student instruction. Studies that compare the cost of the services provided by regional agencies to the cost of services provided by individual school districts demonstrate that regional ESAs produce substantial savings. Massachusetts Collaboratives: Making the Most of Education Dollars

Parents, Choice, and Some Foundations For Education Reform in Massachusetts

Author: William G. Howell, Harvard University Drawing from a telephone survey of 1,000 public school parents in the ten largest school districts in Massachusetts, this paper critically examines public school parents’ knowledge of and interest in alternative schooling options. From the analysis, three basic findings emerge: First, while parents claim to be familiar with NCLB, the vast majority of those who in fact qualify for NCLB’s choice provisions do not know that their child’s school is on the state’s list of underperforming schools. Second, parents with children in underperforming schools are especially interested in pursuing alterna- tive schooling options; this interest, however, does not derive from pointed dissatisfac- tion with their current schools, and it is regularly directed toward options […]

Parents, Choice, and Some Foundations for Education Reform in Massachusetts

Author: William G. Howell, Harvard University Drawing from a telephone survey of 1,000 public school parents in the ten largest school districts in Massachusetts, this paper critically examines public school parents’ knowledge of and interest in alternative schooling options. From the analysis, three basic findings emerge: First, while parents claim to be familiar with NCLB, the vast majority of those who in fact qualify for NCLB’s choice provisions do not know that their child’s school is on the state’s list of underperforming schools. Second, parents with children in underperforming schools are especially interested in pursuing alterna- tive schooling options; this interest, however, does not derive from pointed dissatisfac- tion with their current schools, and it is regularly directed toward options […]

Getting Home: Overcoming Barriers to Housing in Greater Boston

Author: Charles C. Euchner, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. With Elizabeth G. Frieze, Harvard University Affordable housing is important to the vitality of Massachusetts communities, but the state needs to encourage the marketplace to create a broader range of housing types. The first step is to identify the factors that raise the cost and reduce the supply of housing in the Commonwealth. Both state and local governments have a legitimate interest in regulating certain aspects of housing development to assure reasonable safety and health standards and allow for the overall well-being of the community and its character. Some regulations are clearly necessary. Government support of affordable housing may also require grants, tax […]

Getting Home: Overcoming Barriers to Housing in Greater Boston

Author: Charles C. Euchner, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. With Elizabeth G. Frieze, Harvard University Affordable housing is important to the vitality of Massachusetts communities, but the state needs to encourage the marketplace to create a broader range of housing types. The first step is to identify the factors that raise the cost and reduce the supply of housing in the Commonwealth. Both state and local governments have a legitimate interest in regulating certain aspects of housing development to assure reasonable safety and health standards and allow for the overall well-being of the community and its character. Some regulations are clearly necessary. Government support of affordable housing may also require grants, tax […]

Rationalizing Health and Human Services

Author: Charles D. Baker, Jr. The proposal to rationalize health and human services presumes that EOHHS would eliminate its existing operating agencies over time and replace them with an integrated Secretariat organized along functional, rather than product, lines. In this model, each operating division would be led by a commissioner, who would report directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The implementation process would happen one commissioner consolidation at a time and would take place over at least a two-year period. Each one would involve the development and submission to the legislature (and presumably to the public) of a timetable for consolidation, a set of deliverables as the process unfolded (staffing, resources, responsibilities, key interfaces), and a set […]

Competition and Government Services: Can Massachusetts Still Afford the Pacheco Law?

Authors: Geoffrey Segal, Adrian Moore, Adam Summers When faced with insufficient revenues, state governments typically have four options: increase taxes, scale back expenditures, spend down reserves, or seek ways to provide services more efficiently through contracting with private providers. Massachusetts, however, has only the first three options available; it is the only state in the nation that has virtually outlawed the privatization of public services. Competition & Government Services: Can Massachusetts Still Afford the Pacheco Law

A Declaration of Independence: Reaffirming the Autonomy of the Third Branch

James W. Dolan, Esq., Principal, Dolan and Connly, P.C., Former First Justice, Dorchester District Court The study graphically documents the wildly uneven distribution of resources caused by a patronage system that has led to overstaffing of courts that are politically connected and understaffing of those that are not. The documentation is compellingly clear, one of the best existing analyses of the effects of patronage in a court system. The legal maxim “res ipsa loquitur” captures the self-evident nature of the presentation. There was no need for editorializing. A Declaration of Independence: Reaffirming the Autonomy of the Third Branch

A Declaration of Independence: Reaffirming the Autonomy of the Third Branch

James W. Dolan, Esq., Principal, Dolan and Connly, P.C., Former First Justice, Dorchester District Court The study graphically documents the wildly uneven distribution of resources caused by a patronage system that has led to overstaffing of courts that are politically connected and understaffing of those that are not. The documentation is compellingly clear, one of the best existing analyses of the effects of patronage in a court system. The legal maxim “res ipsa loquitur” captures the self-evident nature of the presentation. There was no need for editorializing. A Declaration of Independence: Reaffirming the Autonomy of the Third Branch

Civic Education: Readying Massachusetts’ Next Generation of Citizens

Author: David E. Campbell This paper reports on the state of civic education in Massachusetts, focusing particu- larly on the performance of charter schools in preparing their students for responsible citizenship. Data were collected in an extensive, original survey project that included schools from across the entire state. Over 2,700 students in 23 schools—12 traditional public, 6 chartered public, and 5 private schools—completed a questionnaire measuring numerous aspects of “citizenship training.” Traditional public schools were divided into three categories according to their students’ mean performance on the 2000 MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System)—high, medium, and low. Civic Education: Readying Massachusetts’ Next Generation of Citizens

Build More or Manage Better? Subsidized Housing in Massachusetts

Authors: Howard Husock and David J. Bobb Increases in the price of rental housing in Massachusetts during the economic boom of the 1990s have spurred a push to construct additional subsidized housing. This reportpresents alternatives to construction that could significantly increase the available supply of subsidized housing. The study compares public and subsidized housing in Boston and the Commonwealth to other cities and states in terms of subsidized units per capita, vacancy rates, overhousing rates, and average tenancy tenure. The data indicate opportunities for both state and city housing authorities to manage more effectively the existing stock of public and subsidized housing. Build More or Manage Better? Subsidized Housing in Massachusetts

Build More or Manage Better? Subsidized Housing in Massachusetts

Authors: Howard Husock and David J. Bobb Increases in the price of rental housing in Massachusetts during the economic boom of the 1990s have spurred a push to construct additional subsidized housing. This reportpresents alternatives to construction that could significantly increase the available supply of subsidized housing. The study compares public and subsidized housing in Boston and the Commonwealth to other cities and states in terms of subsidized units per capita, vacancy rates, overhousing rates, and average tenancy tenure. The data indicate opportunities for both state and city housing authorities to manage more effectively the existing stock of public and subsidized housing. Build More or Manage Better? Subsidized Housing in Massachusetts

Comparing the Clinical Quality and Cost of Secondary Care in Academic Health Centers and in Community Hospitals

This study analyzes data from hospitals in six states, including Massachusetts, to compare the cost and quality of secondary care for under-65, privately insured patients in Academic Health Centers (AHCs) and non-AHC or community hospitals. Six measures of clinical quality of care were chosen from “potentially avoidable adverse hospital outcomes” developed by the Healthcare Utilization Project (HCUP) of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The authors discuss the research finding in the context of changes in the market for health insurance, including the emergence of “consumer-driven” health insurance products. The study population is the most likely group to be enrolled in the emerging insurance products that encourage consumers to make health care choices on the basis of cost and […]

The Power To Take: The Use of Eminent Domain in Massachusetts

Author: Michael Malamut, Esq., New England Legal Foundation This study is the first to analyze concrete data to determine patterns in the use of eminent domain. The analysis includes a survey of law review articles, practitioners’ manuals and reported Massachusetts opinions; structured interviews with legal practitioners; and a review of Massachusetts eminent domain statutes, especially in comparison to the 1974 Model Eminent Domain Code. The Power to Take: The Use of Eminent Domain in Massachusetts

Government Effectiveness Index: A Cross-State Survey

Author: James Stergios, Director of Research, Pioneer Institute The central objective of the Government Effectiveness Index (GEI) is to assess how Massachusetts is doing in comparison to other states. It seeks to provide measures of effectiveness based on the efficient use of resources (inputs as a function of quantity or output) and on performance outcomes (quality of output). It does so in regard to eight “core” functions of state government (functions common to most states): K-12 educa- tion, higher education, highways, transit, state police, the judiciary, corrections, and financial administration. This first edition tests the GEI model on a sample set of six states: Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We chose the first four com- parison […]

Toward a High-Performance Workplace: Fixing Civil Service in Massachusetts

Author: Jonathan Walters, Governing Magazine This paper is a call for continued improvement in a system that in its current form is overly bureaucratic, unresponsive, rule-bound, and control oriented.  The changes suggested address three troubling trends that have been gathering momentum in Massachusetts:  First, the use of “provisional” hires as a way to sidestep testing and hiring rules entirely.  Second, the inclination to exempt entire classes of employees from the civil service system altogether.  And third, continued difficulty on the part of specific agencies to compete for the best and brightest job candidates in what is today a fiercely competitive job market. Toward a High-Performance Workplace: Fixing Civil Service in Massachusetts

An Economic History of Health Care in Massachusetts 1990-2000

Author: Jerome H. Grossman, M.D. This report examines the Massachusetts health care system during the tumultuous period from the late 1980s to the close of the 1990s. This timeframe begins with the attempt in 1988 to become the first state in the country to ensure universal entitlement to health insurance and ends with the fiscal crisis of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the general climate of uncertainty and angst that has beset the state’s health care system. Apart from describing the important events of this timeframe—and highlighting the pivotal decisions of earlier decades that set the stage for this period of upheaval—the report aims to illustrate more broadly ways in which the health care system in Massachusetts (and in the […]

Teacher Contracts in Massachusetts

Author: Dale Ballou, University of Massachusetts at Amherst This report is an initial effort to provide systematic information on teacher contracts in Massachusetts. In the summer of 1999, the Pioneer Institute solicited copies of the current contract from all districts in the state. From those that responded, 40 districts were selected to reflect the diverse make- up of the Commonwealth. Although there was no attempt to make the sample statistically representative, the three largest urban systems were included, along with a sample of suburbs and small towns. Care was taken to ensure a mix of high-, medium-, and low-income communities. In these 40 contracts, five topics were closely examined: 1) compensation; 2) teacher evaluation and discipline; 3) transfers; 4) layoffs; […]

Charter Colleges: Balancing Freedom and Accountability

Author: Robert O. Berdahl and Terrence J. MacTaggart This paper applies the charter school idea to public higher education. It makes the case that deregulation coupled with a charter or agreement with the state will enable institutions to operate more efficiently and will produce higher quality educational results. The argument is based on research comparing highly regulated institutions with more independent colleges across the country, as well as interviews with a number of educational, public policy, and political leaders in Massachusetts. The authors draw on the history of Michigan as well as the more recent experience in New Jersey. Charter Colleges: Balancing Freedom and Accountability

Flawed Forecasts: A Critical Look at Convention Center Studies

Author : Heywood T. Sanders, Trinity University The analyses and forecasting presented in convention center feasibility studies rest in part on assumptions about future demand and supply of convention space at both the national and local levels, developed from data supplied by trade groups. Facility size, amenities, and location combine to give specific venues some degree of market appeal and perceived competitiveness. These attributes are quantified through surveys and other means and used to predict event bookings and attendance for each venue, given either current capacity or a planned expansion. These predictions, in turn, inform the calculation of likely direct and indirect economic benefits to the community of building or expanding a convention center. This paper takes a hard look […]