Entries by Greg Sullivan

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.

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.

The past seven weeks of Massachusetts unemployment claims total 25.8 percent of the civilian workforce.

The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 55,448 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended May 2. This brings the total of regular UI claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 781,110. 

The past six weeks of Massachusetts unemployment claims total 24.0 percent of civilian workforce

The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims this morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 70,714 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended April 25. This brings the total of unemployment claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 725,018. 

State Ranking: Michigan, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Nevada have been hardest-hit by COVID-19 jobless claims so far. Massachusetts ranks as 9th hardest-hit.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that in the week ended April 4, the advance number of seasonally-adjusted initial jobless claims was 6,606,000. This follows 6,867,000 initial claims filed in the week ended March 28 and 3,307,000 in the week ended March 21.

The Federal Coronavirus Relief Act impact on Massachusetts

Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, providing $2.2 trillion in financial relief to laid-off workers, hospitals, and distressed industries. The bill provides an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits to each recipient for up to four months and extends benefits to previously ineligible categories of workers, including independent contractors, those with limited work history, and self-employed persons.

Congress should fix aid, provide block grants

This op-ed by Greg Sullivan and Charlie Chieppo appeared in the Boston Business Journal on March 27, 2020. While passage of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Actis surely good news, it will come nowhere near fully addressing the pandemic’s impact on the commonwealth’s finances. Large block grants would be the best way to provide states with much needed relief. Thanks to the virus, state revenue sources from sales taxes to pension fund receipts are plummeting. At the same time, expenses connected to the outbreak are rising sharply. Just look at unemployment insurance. Weekly state unemployment claims rose from 4,712to 147,995in just two weeks. And while the new stimulus bill will add $600 to each unemployment check for up to four months and […]

Accountability for casino revenue targets needs to be “in the cards”

Co-authored by Andrew Mikula and Greg Sullivan Everett’s Encore Boston Harbor has entered its third quarter of business with two pieces of good news. First, there has been renewed interest in the construction of a footbridge connecting the Orange Line to the shimmering resort casino, a major step towards improving accessibility and reducing traffic congestion in the vicinity. Second, USA Today named Encore as one of the best casinos outside of Las Vegas.   But there is also some bad news. The most recent Massachusetts Gaming Commission revenue report indicates that state revenue from Encore Boston Harbor will fall far short of the $201 million that the casino owner projected for fiscal year 2020 when it was vying for a […]

Williams and Markopolos Were Proven Right: MBTARF Was Underreporting Its Unfunded Pension Liabilities Just as the Whistleblowers Said in Their 2015 Report

In a new brief, Pioneer shows that whistleblowers’ 2015 claims that the MBTA Retirement Fund (MBTARF) has been underreporting its unfunded pension liabilities was correct. In their study, Boston University Professor Mark T. Williams and Bernie Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopo­los outlined three specific ways in which the T pension fund was misrepresenting its liability, by a total of $280 million. At the time, MBTARF vigorously refuted the validity of the findings, but a new Pioneer brief presents in-depth analysis vindicating Williams and Markopolos.

Drop in MBTA Commuter Rail Ridership Continues

A recent Boston Globe column by Northeastern University Professor Joseph M. Giglio and our own Charlie Chieppo has drawn the ire of some transit advocates.  In it, Giglio and Chieppo argue that commuter rail trains that provide station-to-station service are poorly positioned to compete with shared, electric, self-driving cars, when they become dominant several decades from now. The advocates seem to have seized on the fact that the authors wrote that MBTA commuter rail ridership is down, and they assert that it has actually spiked in recent years.  But that claim seems to be based more on wishful thinking than fact. The official standard for ridership statistics is the National Transit Database (NTD), which contains data reported by transit agencies […]

Eight Reasons to Question Professor Cristobal Young’s Conclusions about Millionaire’s

The work of a Stanford University Professor whose research has formed the foundation of efforts, such as one scheduled to appear on the Massachusetts ballot in November, to impose surtaxes on high earners is flawed because it excludes the vast majority of millionaires, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Housing & Who’s a ‘Millionaire’ according to Proposition 80

The tax hike on those with annual taxable incomes of $1 million or more that would result from a proposed amendment to the state constitution scheduled to appear on the Commonwealth’s November ballot would likely ensnare an ever-increasing number of taxpayers because the index used to adjust the million-dollar threshold has historically grown at a far slower rate than the taxable income of Massachusetts taxpayers and increases in state home values.