Passage of Proposition 80, the tax hike proposal scheduled to appear on the November 2018 Massachusetts ballot, will fail to generate the level of revenue growth projected by its backers.
About Greg Sullivan
Gregory W. Sullivan is Pioneer’s Research Director, and oversees the Centers for Better Government and Economic Opportunity. Prior to joining Pioneer, Greg served two five-year terms as Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As Inspector General, Greg directed many significant cases, including an investigation that led to the conviction of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a forensic audit that uncovered substantial over-billing by health-care providers to the state uncompensated care pool, a study that identified irregularities in the approval process of the state charter school program, and a review that identified systemic inefficiencies in the state public construction bidding system.
Prior to serving as Inspector General, Greg held several positions within the state Office of Inspector General. He was a 17-year member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, serving on the committees of Ways and Means, Human Services, and Post-Audit and Oversight. As a legislator, Greg was a fiscal conservative. Working with the Pioneer Institute, he introduced legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives and State Senate to institute a workfare requirement in Massachusetts. He also sponsored legislation that resulted in the establishment of the Massachusetts research and development tax credit.
Greg is a Certified Fraud Investigator, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, a master’s degree in public administration from The Kennedy School of Public Administration at Harvard, and a master’s degree from the Sloan School at M.I.T., with a concentration in finance. Greg and his wife Marion live in Norwood and have four children and one grandchild.
Entries by Greg Sullivan
Passage of Proposition 80, the tax hike proposal scheduled to appear on the November 2018 Massachusetts ballot, would accelerate migration out of Massachusetts, especially to Florida and New Hampshire. Proposition 80 would add a 4 percent surtax on any annual taxable income over $1 million. Download Report:
This report finds that recent passage of the federal tax overhaul legislation will exacerbate the negative economic impact of Proposition 80, the proposed constitutional amendment scheduled to appear on Massachusetts’ November ballot that would add a 4 percent surtax on annual taxable income over $1 million.
This op-ed appeared in The Boston Business Journal on February 7, 2018 It all sounds so simple. Just slap a four-percentage-point surcharge on all annual income over $1 million and use the supposed $1.9 billion windfall to fund education and transportation. It sounds irresistible … until you look at the results just to our south in Connecticut, where the same policies have essentially been in place for years. Over the last quarter-century, Connecticut has endured a series of budget crises. To cover ballooning costs, the state enacted sharp tax hikes, including four income tax hikes in the last 14 years that caused the top rate to jump by 77 percent. In recent years, Connecticut has increasingly turned to high earners and large […]
This report urges proponents of a 2018 statewide ballot initiative that would add a surcharge on the state taxes of those earning over $1 million annually to look at the experience of Connecticut, where multiple rounds of tax hikes aimed at high earners triggered an exodus of large employers and high-earning individuals that resulted in declining tax revenue.
This report shows that if Massachusetts voters approve Proposition 80, scheduled to appear on the statewide ballot next year, Massachusetts’ top capital gains tax rate would go from 30th highest in the nation to fourth and the commonwealth’s highest combined state and federal rate would move from 25th to second.
A comprehensive study of the MBTA ferry service’s performance as a transit mode and how it compares to other ferry operators nationwide offers useful insights for policy discussion on future water transportation in Massachusetts Bay, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.
S&P Global Ratings (S&P) recently downgraded Commonwealth and certain other Massachusetts agency bond ratings one notch from AA+ to AA. The AA rating is still considered a high mark in terms of the investment grade of the bonds, meaning S&P believes the state will meet its debt obligations. While it is fair to say that the downgrade is not a calamity, it is certainly a warning signal as to what could happen should the state continue practices that do not lead to long-term fiscal health. It’s a reality check to which we should pay close attention. As shown in Figure 1, the state’s S&P rating on Massachusetts bonds is still well above 2001 levels and is now at the same […]
This report asserts that with the current MBTA pension agreement set to expire in June 2018 and a new evaluation projecting a $1.485 billion increase in retirement costs over the next 18 years under terms of the current agreement, the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) should take immediate action to protect the authority’s precarious finances.
This report finds that Massachusetts’ 102 local systems (84 municipal, 12 regional and 6 “special” such as MHFA and Massport) have average per-member administrative costs that are at least triple those of the Massachusetts State Employees’ Retirement System (MSERS), with many that are far higher.
By Greg Sullivan Friday, April 14, 2017 The University of Massachusetts at Boston faces seemingly intractable financial difficulties, but it’s wrong to pin the blame on outgoing Chancellor Keith Motley. Many of the problems flow from decisions made by the UMass board of trustees’ and president’s offices. At the direction of the trustees, UMass Boston has grown its enrollment and expanded capital facilities at an historic rate over the past decade, despite projected declines in the number of Massachusetts high school graduates. A 2011 UMass Boston financial task force forecast that the campus would face a $58.5 million shortfall by fiscal 2015 unless new sources of revenue could be identified to pay for additional expenses related to expanded enrollment and new […]
This report compares MBTA bus maintenance costs with those of five transit agencies identified as peers by the Integrated National Transit Database Analysis System. In 2015, the MBTA had the highest vehicle maintenance cost per hour of bus operation of the six transit agencies identified as peers by INTDAS.
When doing the people’s will is secondary to legislators’ self-interest, how strong is our democracy? The state Legislature is on the verge of overriding the Governor’s veto of legislation that includes sizable pay raises for state and legislative leaders. Their actions on this front will answer the democracy question. Since legislators can’t raise their base pay, the hikes are limited to leadership positions in the form of increased legislative stipends. Base pay increases are formulaic and tied to the state’s median household income. The Boston Globe reported on several questionable aspects of the bill. It contains an “emergency preamble,” which means the raises would take effect immediately. The legislation also includes pay hikes for the judiciary, which, due to a clause in the state Constitution, makes it challenging at best to reverse via initiative petition. And because committee chairs and other leadership positions have not yet been officially selected, legislators don’t need to worry about violating conflict of interest laws for voting on their own financial interests. […]
The present policy paper argues that FMCB must conduct an independent audit and actuarial valuation of the fund, because of specific failures and omissions even in the limited work that FTI did. In doing so, we find that in opposition to the claims of FTI, the claims of potential malfeasance and poor management by the MBTARF Board, which came from noted whistleblower Harry Markopolos and Boston University Professor Mark Williams, were likely accurate.
This report examines the MBTA Retirement Fund’s unfunded liability and compares MBTA and state employee and employer retirement contributions. It recommends that the MBTA assess the feasibility of moving its employees out of the Social Security system and transfer investment management responsibility for its pension fund to the commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Management board as initial steps toward terminating the MBTA Retirement Fund (MBTARF).
This report focuses on setting a strategic target for substantial increases in MBTA ridership. The author examines ridership trends from 2002 through the most recent available data for 20162, tracking annual growth in ridership from September through August for each year on the following six transit modes: heavy rail (the Blue, Orange and Red Lines), light rail (Green Line), commuter rail, bus, trolley bus and ferry service. The report offers projections of potential revenue the MBTA could generate in a range of scenarios.
Outsourcing bus services is—by now—conventional wisdom As the Finance and Management Control Board (FMCB) considers further action to address its operating deficit, deferred maintenance backlog, and the demands from riders for higher quality performance, once again privatization of services has come center stage. During the coming weeks, there will be ample debate on the merits of proposals to outsource ancillary services; there has also been greater focus on whether some core services of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) should be competitively bid to ensure higher quality service and lower costs. In situations when there is heated discussion due to the potential impact on the interests of labor, as evidenced by the hundreds of MBTA union members who attended a […]
In Leveling the playing field: the need for taxi reform in the Commonwealth, authors Matt Blackbourn and Gregory Sullivan describe some of the unfair and outdated regulatory restrictions that cab operators face, and offer recommendations for the ride-for-hire task force, to be established by new legislation.
As University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan considers raising tuitions yet again, his institution is at a crossroads. On the one hand, the University of Massachusetts has many achievements of which to be proud. Under the leadership of Meehan and his predecessors over a quarter century, the average grade point average of entering UMass Amherst freshmen shot up from around 2.9 to 3.8. In just the last five years, the flagship Amherst campus rose more than 20 spots in U.S. News & World Report rankings. While impressive, the strategies that produced such advances have compromised the university’s financial health and its mission of serving Massachusetts students. Read the rest of this op-ed in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Salem News, […]
In assembling the data for Pioneer’s UMass at a Crossroads series, which covers the improving academic profile of UMass students, the strategy of recruiting more out-of-state and international students to generate additional revenue, and the fiscal implications of UMass’ ambitious capital expansion, Pioneer identified inconsistencies in UMass’ reporting of deferred maintenance. Below is a brief overview of the disparate deferred maintenance numbers UMass has provided over the last several years, accompanied by discussion of the implications of these inconsistencies. (Note: endnotes/citations can be found in the papers, available here.) Disparities in UMass’ reporting of deferred maintenance Deferred maintenance refers to the postponement of maintenance of capital assets that are in need of replacement or renewal. It includes delayed repairs on […]
This paper is the first in Pioneer Institute’s UMass at a Crossroads series. In this study, Pioneer focuses on UMass’ significant growth in two areas, academic competitiveness and student enrollment, compared to other New England state universities, MA private universities, national private universities and national public universities. Pioneer raises the question of whether the continued expansion of UMass, based largely on increased enrollment of out-of-state students, is in the best interest of the commonwealth.
This report illustrates that state policy and legislative recommendations requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose proprietary information would discourage the development of new innovative medicines, lead to higher healthcare costs over the long term, and potentially damage a big driver of Massachusetts’ business economy.
UMass issued a report and a press release Tuesday citing a record level of research and development spending at UMass in fiscal year 2015. “Despite the tightening of the funding environment, the University of Massachusetts saw sponsored research increase by 4.3 percent during the past year, reaching a record $629 million, President Marty Meehan announced today.” What might not be immediately evident from the UMass announcement is that all of the 4.3 percent increase in UMass R&D spending in FY2015 was attributable to funding provided by the state and UMass itself, which amounted to an increase of $26.5 million, a 14 percent increase from 2014 to 2015. Externally-funded research, from federal, business, nonprofit, other sources, actually declined by $670,000 from […]
Data released by the National Transit Database (NTD) reveals startling increases in MBTA expenditures on administrative personnel over the past several years, generating even more doubt surrounding the commitment of the Authority to cost-containment.
This report dissects other studies and their recommendations, with additional suggestions for a direction forward for DCF in the context of a broader discussion of the agency’s recent history and issues with mission ambiguity. The first and most important recommendation is to overhaul the current two-tiered child intake system, which should be the central focus of any changes at the agency.
The first step in reforming the MBTA has been taken by the Legislature and the Governor. It included the establishment of a Finance and Management Control Board focused on the Authority’s operations as well as the new power to contract out services over a limited period of time. The second step for the MBTA has to be addressing the issues of immediate and short-term concern such as transit safety and the maintenance, upgrade and repair of assets that will allow the MBTA to function throughout even a difficult winter. Even as the work is underway, in order to ensure that the MBTA can address operational finance issues and make further investments and progress in addressing its multi-billion maintenance backlog, the […]
This policy brief identifies three immediate measures the MBTA should be taking right now to take that third step. The suggestions are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather are suggestions to get that effort started. Cumulatively, the MBTA could garner $103 to $122 million a year in savings through these actions, even as it improves the quality of transit services. Download Report:
Massachusetts, once a national leader in welfare reform, needs to reinvigorate its commitment to helping recipients succeed in the workforce. A good first step would be for Governor Charlie Baker to instruct the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to reinstate the work component of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. Under federal rules, SNAP recipients between 18 and 50 without dependent children can get benefits for only three months within a three-year period if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program. With some exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 must register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in an employment and training program […]
The Boston Globe reports today that MBTA officials briefed MBTA union officials last week about their forthcoming plan to request information from outside companies on running about 30 of the T’s 170 current bus routes, representing approximately 17 percent of its total routes. This should be welcomed news to state taxpayers and local property taxpayers in the cities and towns of the MBTA district. MBTA employees unions have held a virtual monopoly on T bus operations and bus maintenance services since passage of legislation adopted in 1993 that effectively handcuffed T management from outsourcing these and other services. The protectionist Pacheco Law was adopted five months after then-Governor William Weld proposed privatizing some of the MBTA’s bus operations and maintenance […]
The report has three major findings—each of which demonstrates that the Pacheco Law has cost the MBTA more than $450 million since it blocked the MBTA from signing two contracts in 1997 to purchase 38.0 percent of its bus and bus maintenance service from private companies.