THE PIONEER BLOG

Coastal Towns Charge the Most Permit Fees Per Capita in Massachusetts

One of the ways local governments raise revenue is by requiring permits and licenses for various activities. Occupational licensing laws, which require a series of tests, education, and fees before someone can enter certain professions, are administered at the state level. However, local governments charge permit fees for changes to buildings, new businesses, reviews of […]

Pioneer Institute Celebrates Sunshine Week 2019

Sunshine Week is dedicated to bringing greater awareness to the importance of government transparency and to highlighting areas where improvement is needed. After all, a healthy democracy is unsustainable unless people are fully informed and can meaningfully engage in the democratic process. To celebrate Sunshine Week, each year Pioneer reviews some of its recent work […]

The Metro & the MBTA: Raising Fares May Not Be Enough

New York City and Boston are drastically different cities, but their transit systems are struggling with the same problems. Now both cities have proposed fare increases as part of their solutions. Many riders are upset, claiming they haven’t seen improvements sufficient to merit the increases. Transit advocates and policy researchers lament that the fare hikes […]

The State Legislature Should Steer Clear of New Occupational Licensing Laws

The reach of occupational licensing laws has expanded greatly over the past half-century. In the 1950s, only 5 percent of the U.S. workforce needed a government-issued license to do their jobs. Now, almost 30 percent of workers require one. While everyone knows that doctors and lawyers have rigorous requirements, numerous jobs now require licenses. As […]

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 […]

Research Assistant

Pioneer Institute seeks a research assistant to join its healthcare policy program to work with senior healthcare policy fellows on a variety of projects. Current Pioneer projects include healthcare price transparency, scope of practice laws, reforms in the small group market, data analysis utilizing pricing data from the Center for Health Information and Analysis, and […]

Guess What Massachusetts Public Employee Earns Over $1 Million

The State Comptroller’s Office makes available annual salary information for all Massachusetts public employees. Before the state established a website to provide such transparency, Pioneer Institute launched Mass Open Books, which allows the public to anonymously peruse information regarding state finances, pension funds, contractor payments, and employee salaries. Mass Open Books has information going back […]

After Win Number Six, Transit is Still a Loss

How was your commute yesterday? Odds are, it wasn’t good. Forty-seven percent of February 5th’s peak-hour commuter rail trains (7:00 am to 9:00am and 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm) were late. Your chances of getting to work or home on time were about the same as the Patriots winning the toss and electing to defer. […]

Our Government Transparency Resolutions for 2019

Government transparency has already suffered two major blows in 2019. First, a special legislative commission charged with making recommendations on the legislature’s and governor’s exemptions from public records law failed to reach consensus on a long-awaited report on improvements.> Second, Mr. Transparency himself, State Comptroller Tom Shack, the driver behind CTHRU, the state’s highly acclaimed spending […]

How Much Does Your Local Government Raise from Fines and Forfeitures?

One of the ways local governments raise revenue to fund public services is through fines and forfeitures. That includes everything from speeding tickets or fines for fishing without a license to property seized in a criminal investigation. The latter practice, also known as civil asset forfeiture, has come under fire from both conservative and liberal […]

Saluting a Fine Public Servant

State comptroller isn’t a job that’s very familiar to the average Massachusetts resident, but during his tenure, Tom Shack has shown just how important and impactful the position can be.  As he departs the office, he deserves kudos for his good work. Soon after his appointment in 2015, Tom recognized the need to improve state […]

the Boston skyline overlaid with money.

Overtime Pay Tally Reveals Large Disparities

The top 50 overtime earners among state employees averaged $99,114 in overtime pay during fiscal 2017. Of the top 50 the top earners, two work in the Department of Mental Health, two in the Department of Public Health, five in the Department of Transportation, 11 in the Department of Corrections and 30 are in the […]

A Win for Commuters

We are thrilled that the MBTA is moving forward to expand its corporate pass program (CPP) as recommended by Pioneer Institute in January. Pioneer believes the program has great potential to increase both ridership and revenue. The MBTA’s corporate pass program allows employees to purchase T passes through their employers with pre-tax dollars, which in turn reduces employee […]

Moving the MBTA Forward

We are pleased that former Pioneer Institute Research Director Steve Poftak has been named the next General Manager of the MBTA. While at Pioneer, Steve oversaw and directly authored a high-quality portfolio of research that spanned from transportation and infrastructure to pension and other state and local post-employment liabilities. Pioneer has long been committed to advancing […]