Entries by Rebekah Paxton

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.

Case Studies on Re-Opening National Economies, and What to Expect in the U.S. and Massachusetts

Based on case studies from Europe, Massachusetts’ strategy for beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic may include allowing businesses to open in phases and extending social distancing guidelines that include mask-wearing and maintaining distances between individuals. This report compares the reopening approaches of three European countries – Austria, Denmark, and Germany – to highlight approaches that could inform the Commonwealth’s reopening strategy.

Some Big, Broad Economic Trends in Massachusetts

A new report from Pioneer Institute that draws on data from MassEconomix shows that levels of employment in Massachusetts had surpassed pre-Great Recession levels as of 2018. In “Some Big, Broad Economic Trends in Massachusetts,” Pioneer analysis of two decades of data shows fluctuating employment changes across the state, as well as firm size information and the largest employers.

An Analysis of How Massachusetts’ ‘Student Growth’ Model Limits Access to Charter Public Schools

The Student Growth Percentile (SGP) the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) now uses as 25 percent of the formula for determining school district rankings has a high degree of error. While the SGP may have a role to play as part of discussions around holding districts accountable for performance, it should not be used for high-stakes policy decisions, including which districts are eligible for an increase in the charter public school cap.

Where Do Teacher Union Dues Go?

Just 16 percent of dues paid by the average member of a union affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) actually goes to their local association, while the remaining 84 percent flows to the state (MTA) and national (National Education Association) organizations.

The Crazy World of College Presidential Salaries Part 3: Comparing Presidential Salaries with State College & University Success Rates

  While many factors influence state university presidential pay rates, there isn’t always a correlation between those rates and student outcomes. Ideally, a university president would have a portion of his or her salary tied to student outcomes such as improved retention and graduation rates. To see how Massachusetts state colleges and universities stack up, we reviewed the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education online data tool. Graduation Rates Figure 1 below depicts each state college and university’s latest four- and six-year graduation rates. This data describes the 2009 cohort of students, i.e. those entering the school in the fall of 2009. Had they completed their studies in four years they would have graduated in 2013, and would have graduated in […]

The Crazy World of College Presidential Salaries Part 2: A Deeper Look

Part 1 of this blog series on MA state colleges and universities addressed presidents’ salaries since 2010. In general, although public funding for MA higher education institutions—specifically the state college and non-UMass university system—is decreasing, university presidents received annual raises, and sometimes very large raises and expensive buyouts. The picture is a bit murky, though, because of the various challenges faced each of the nine schools in the system. So how does each school measure up? For context, Figure 1 presents an overview of how much the presidents of each college and university earned payroll in 2016. ‘Salary Rate’ refers to the annualized base rate at which the president was paid, while ‘Total Pay’ represents the net amount each received, […]

Welcome to the Crazy World of College Presidential Salaries – Part 1

In a world of skyrocketing college tuition and student debt, the issue of college administration costs has become highly visible—and infuriating—for those footing the college bills. A large part of a higher education institution’s administrative costs come from salaries, including pay for presidents, executive boards, deans, and provosts. But these positions also sometimes come with not-so-straightforward perks, including buyouts upon retirement and significant pension plans. While controversies may seem more likely in private institutions, taxpayer-funded public universities and colleges also have their share of issues. While Massachusetts’ nine state universities are supposed to provide a more affordable option for students, still some administrative salaries are increasing as tuition continues to rise. To gain a simpler view of how such salaries […]

Spending on Students: How Does Groton Compare?

Massachusetts is known for the strength of its K-12 education.  US News & World Report recently ranked the commonwealth’s public-school districts.  Having grown up in Groton, I wanted to see the correlation between educational expenditures and school district performance in the town. How does Groton’s education spending compare to Massachusetts towns with similar demographics? How about neighboring towns?  To find out, I used MassAnalysis, a free, online transparency tool offered by Pioneer Institute. MassAnalysis uses financial information provided by the municipalities to the Department of Revenue (DOR). MassAnalysis has two simultaneously useful features, the first is a peer analysis tool which compares a town of interest with other municipalities that are similar based on certain parameters. To analyze Groton and […]

Groton’s Tax Base Dilemma

Among 15 peer municipalities, Groton’s commercial tax yield makes up a relatively small percentage of its total tax revenue and general government expenditures. In Groton and similar towns, how does developing a commercial tax base fare in terms of supporting local expenditures and moderating residential and personal property taxes?             MassAnalysis.com provides town-by-town data on an extensive range of parameters, including municipal expenditures, demographics, tax rates and revenue information. The database allows comparative analyses with “peer municipalities,” that rank similarly to a particular city or town across a variety of metrics that can be selected to provide robust, dynamic insight into municipal governments and their differences across Massachusetts. A pressing issue for Groton residents has been a perception that taxes […]