THE PIONEER BLOG

Why the secrecy? Pioneer Calls for Open Meetings Dealing with Steward’s Impact on Patient Care.

Recently the Healey administration’s Department of Public health (DPH) announced it was hosting five invitation-only virtual meetings with hospitals, community health centers, and others in communities where Steward hospitals are located. The meetings, as described by letters sent by officials and reported in the Boston Globe, will “focus on meeting the needs of the patients and providers in our communities.” Presumably, the focus will be on continuity of patient care in these communities. None of the five meetings about Steward will be open to the public or the media. Both the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers appear to be joining DPH in co-sponsoring these virtual community meetings. The Globe reports that the “hosts said […]

Mayor Wu’s Commercial Property Tax Proposal: A Solution or a Snuff?

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is considering shifting more of the property tax burden onto commercial property owners as a way to close a potential budget gap of $1.4 billion by temporarily increasing the commercial property tax rate to 200 percent of the residential rate.  To do this, Mayor Wu would seek approval from the City Council and state legislature to allow Boston to temporarily exceed the 175 percent shift cap allowed by state law.  It would then be phased out over a four-year period by reducing the rate by 7.5 percent annually. When initially introduced, this local option higher property tax rate cap was intended to protect residential property owners from double-digit tax rate increases stemming from the steep rise […]

The Necessity of Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting: MA Provides a Shining Example

Revenue collections, predicted revenue, and expenditures are among the most important data points states report. Without accurate predictions and regular reporting, the legislature and governor’s office may go over or under budget, potentially leaving citizens and policymakers in the dark about the fiscal health of the state.

For this reason, all states regularly report those numbers and update estimates based on trends, overall economic conditions, and expected changes as a result of new state policies. However, even among the New England states, the transparency and accessibility of such reporting varies greatly and, as a result, limits analysts’ ability to meaningfully compare state revenues and judge performance in real time.

Middlemen Pushing Up Retail Costs of Drugs

The reality is that non-price factors, including several players, are causing net prices to decline and retail prices to increase. Those players include employers, health plans, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), all of whom have continuously circumvented the system through loopholes and complicated systems of reimbursement that tend to hurt patients

Milton Shuts the Door
on Multifamily Housing Plans

The MBTA Communities Act, passed in 2021, provides that the 177 communities serviced by the MBTA must create multifamily zones to spur housing development close to public transportation. But the issue is an emotionally charged one, with passions high on both sides. And Milton residents in February rejected a plan to create such housing ‚ choosing a loss of some state funding over an approximately 25 percent increase in their housing stock, along with the possibility of greater congestion.

State Overtime Expenditures Jump, Even as Employment Increases

A new analysis of state payroll expenditures reveals a sizable increase in overtime expenditures, even as the state has added nearly 3,000 new employees since the beginning of the pandemic.

‘High’ U.S. Drug Prices Mask Freeloading by Other Nations

The drug company’s choice is to walk away from millions in revenue from a given country and deny their people a lifesaving drug, or swallow hard and accept an unfair price that is nowhere near the drug’s value. For the sake of shareholders and patients, drug companies typically accept the unfair price and devote the revenue to offsetting their previous investments. In short, other nations are freeloading off of American R&D.

My Musings on Massachusetts’ Fiscal Picture

Since the start of FY2024 on July 1, 2023, the state has experienced six straight months of revenues falling short of expectations. The single biggest factor is the unprecedented growth of the state budget since FY2021. The $15 billion increase in state spending contextualizes the seemingly modest projected revenue growth of 1.6 percent for FY2024 by highlighting that the base is very inflated.

Studying the Humanities in the 2020s

At a time of tumultuous and sometimes vitriolic debates on American campuses, here are seven guiding principles to help college student thinking about studying history or any other humanities subject.

Better Civics Education Is the Massachusetts Way

The fight for more comprehensive civics education in the Bay State has persisted for years. The Legislature’s recent override of Gov. Maura Healey’s cut to the state’s modest civics instruction budget suggests that in many in Massachusetts — including parents, teachers, and lawmakers — support strengthening the state’s civics and history curriculum, particularly with mounting evidence of declined student performance across the country.

Except in Florida, There’s Really No (High School) Debate

In much of the country, the state of America’s High school debate is not strong. Teachers and education professionals have become indoctrinated in an identity-obsessed, grievance-seeking body politic. But in Florida, students must thoroughly research debatable positions and are actually expected to engage with those who disagree.

The Disconnect Between Education and Activism

I’m sympathetic when I hear individuals lament cancel culture, radicalized student bodies, and anti-free speech climates in our institutions of higher learning. In many ways, it’s right to do so. But in our defense, I might suggest that our lack of aptitude is the result of increasingly substandard history and civics education.

Why Study History?

Intern Jude Iredell emphasizes the importance of history education for informed citizenship, citing Pioneer’s survey on Massachusetts residents’ historical knowledge. He encourages supporting organizations and initiatives promoting civic engagement and history literacy.

University Science Research Is Under Threat

The Biden administration’s formation of a working group to “develop a framework for the implementation of the march-in provision of the Bayh-Dole Act” could have serious adverse consequences for university research and biopharmaceutical innovation. It represents a particularly dangerous threat to the thriving life sciences cluster in Greater Boston.

Massachusetts Split Property Tax Rates – Considerations for the Current Economic Climate

Many taxing jurisdictions distinguish among the various property types and treat them differently. Common property classifications include: residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural.

A majority of states, some 60 percent, use some kind of classification, but those classifications vary in scope and effective tax burden (i.e., the actual amount of tax paid after credits, deductions and other changes are taken into account.) Classifications are also operationalized differently among states. Some use a set rate for different types of properties and others use a ratio of assessment and market values.