Biotech vs. Precision Plastics

Good play on the radio and in the print media subsequent to our piece in the Herald giving Pioneer’s take on the billion-dollar biotech bonanza, excerpted below: We all want to attract and grow biotech companies. [But] why not focus on financial services, which employs 180,000, or precision plastics, a large employer in Worcester and Springfield? [Why] not focus on the small business sector as a whole, which creates many times more jobs than biotech. Those jobs start people up the economic ladder – and stay in Massachusetts. The only way to grow and retain jobs and broad prosperity is to improve the business climate by addressing areas of competitive disadvantage like unemployment insurance, permitting, health care and energy costs. Massachusetts has the […]

Teach to the test? By all means, says Tom Birmingham

As thousands of students languish on charter school and METCO’s waiting lists, the state education apparatus (including a former Commissioner of Education, former Board of Ed chairman, and former co-chair of the Committee on Education) is attacking what they think is wrong with our schools: MCAS testing. Fortunately, former Senate President (and eternal champion of better schools and common sense) Tom Birmingham will have none of that. To cite the State House News article above: …[Birmingham] called the phrase “teaching to the test” an unfair pejorative because the skills assessed by the test are universally necessary. “If you aren’t literate and numerate, I think the other subjects are going to be lost on you anyway,” he said. “It’s not like […]

How Much Have Business Taxes Increased?

Upon release of the Governor’s budget, the issue of business taxes came to the fore. A coalition of business groups claimed that taxes had increased by $1 billion over the past few years. The administration, a bit snarkily (but with creative use of technology), replied that these claims were outrageous. A tip of the pen to Blue Mass Group as the source for these documents. (Curious why a release attributed to the Governor’s Office only shows up on that site? I am too.) However, we’ve got a new, unimpeachable source of data to referee these claims — the Commonwealth’s Official Statement. (Another tip of the pen– to A Healthy Blog for figuring out how to post this publicly). It details […]

Tooting My Own Horn

Ripped from today’s headlines: “I think there’s certainly a tremendous amount of vision in the education plan, but I approach the financing side of it with a great deal of trepidation,” said Steve Poftak, research director for the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank. “I think it’s going to be tremendously difficult to come up with the funds for each one of these initiatives.”

Too Much Innovation from the Public Sector?

Have you seen the logo for the 2012 Olympics in London? It appears they dropped the original submission. Also, the rollout presentation is triggering seizures. The organizers of the event have, rather bravely but perversely, opened up their website for individuals to design their own logos. Many of which are substantially better than the one that was chosen. The BBC also has been soliciting its patrons for new designs. The third one in the gallery is my favorite. Oh, and did we mention that the organizing committee paid 400,000 pounds for a consulting group to develop the chosen design?

The Dog That Never Barked

With apologies to Sherlock Holmes, today’s Steve Bailey column on the potential expansion of the Boston Common Parking Garage contains a reference to “a recent study by a state commission that concluded Boston could continue to support two convention centers”. The study (and the reference) are interesting for a couple of reasons. This study was produced with state funds, yet its never been released in its entirety to the public. The commission that produced it never voted on its contents, nor is there any record of them meeting in the year before it was released. And only one commission member appeared at the press conference releasing the document. We have requested (again) a copy of the report in its entirety […]

You are Fired!!??

Submerged three paragraphs down in the Globe’s “New England in Brief” section is this little nugget: Two top state officials — Registrar of Motor Vehicles Anne L. Collins and MassHighway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky…are back on the job, after being fired Thursday…Top sources in the Patrick administration said the mistake was the result of a mix-up in communication with the governor’s office; they said that the administration is considering whether Collins and Paiewonsky will remain in place.

Deed restrictions, indeed

According to Commonwealth Magazine’s 2007 spring edition, the Patrick administration is a receptive audience for Pioneer’s policy paper, Housing Programs in Weak Market Neighborhoods: Developing the Right Tools for Urban Revitalization, written by Peter Gagliardi. The report details how well-meaning state policies may actually hurt the revitalization of poorer communities. The study finds that most state programs are intended to ensure affordability in the state’s heated housing markets. In neighborhoods with weak housing markets, vacant properties, abandoned buildings, and aging infrastructure, these programs are counterproductive: restricting homeowners’ equity, discouraging the sale of redeveloped properties and concentrating poverty. The good press is encouraging. Much work remains to get the right set of policy tools in place for urban revitalization. Pioneer continues […]

Traitors In Our Midst

Pioneer is a think tank dedicated to the work of making Massachusetts a better place to live. So, it’s with a heavy heart that we open today’s paper and learn the sordid truth about one of our beloved colleagues: Charles Chieppo, a senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, while conceding that the Yankees are “so pathetic this year,” points out that the current squad is not the first underperforming Yankees team in history. Chieppo first became a Yankees fan in 1966, when they finished last in the American League.

Baker-Levy Smackdown, Part Two

Paul Levy runs Beth Israel, an academic medical center (and a good blog in his spare time). Charlie Baker runs Harvard Pilgrim, one of the state’s largest health insurers. They’ve chatted online from time to time and their latest exchange covers a few of the hot topics in healthcare. Charlie notes that people in Massachusetts use academic medical centers (read as higher cost providers) disproportionately more than other states. And that several of these centers are aggressively expanding. Paul responds that many of these centers are effectively neighborhood hospitals, that many people perceive them as providing higher levels of care, and that there is not enough good quality, current data available.  He’s right, but we’d point to our 2004 report […]

Who will improve our health care blues?

Today’s Globe editorial lays out the health care riffs of the Democratic presidential bluesmasters, noting some pretty big refrains: $90 to $120 billion for John “Pretty Boy” Edwards and $50 to $65 billion for “Sweet Talk” Barack Obama. Seems everyone’s in love with the Massachusetts mandate. Edwards, the Globe reports, would require that everyone obtain health insurance, a national version of the individual mandate that takes effect in Massachusetts July 1. Businesses would have to offer insurance or make contributions (amount not specified) so workers could get it on their own. When I hear riffs like these, it makes me want to run, or to stay in tune, uh, go “down to the station, suitcase in my hand.” I have […]

Today, I want to be…

Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute. Why? I’ve long been a booster of small business creation and the need for government to improve the general business climate. The problem is the debate has morphed into a maniacal focus on access to capital. That is important, but the folks in the small business cheerleading squad, generally because they lack strong experience in business creation (otherwise they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing…), ignore the numbers. Along comes Veronique with a tremendous article in the Cato Institute’s magazine Regulation, which deconstructs the practices of the multi-billion dollar Small Business Administration. (The SBA provides government-sponsored loans and loan guarantees, as well as technical assistance and advocacy to and for small […]

School choice saves public education, in Edmonton and Boston

Edmonton, Alberta’s Angus McBeath is back in town this week, which is good news for the Commonwealth’s public school students – though it’s too bad they won’t get to see him. Pioneer is reintroducing Mr. McBeath to education policy leaders in Springfield and Holyoke, and at the Boston Foundation and BU, and his message deserves to be heard: Teaching is the most important paid work in society. – Angus McBeath, from 2005 Lovett C. Peters Lecture in Public Policy As the Superintendent of Edmonton’s public schools, Mr. McBeath presided over dramatic systemwide reforms. Each school’s performance was measured, and that data was made available to parents, who could then choose any school they wanted for their child. District funding followed children […]

Supply and Demand — Is it really a law or just an opinion?

The Commonwealth is funding an innovative program to replace our current strain of cranberries with higher producing vines. This makes perfect sense because just a few years ago, the Federal government had to bail out the industry to the tune of $50 million because of a glut of cranberries on the market. See, government interference in markets makes us more efficient.

No more fat to cut

Watching the Sox-Yankees game last night (the local feed on NESN, not the national feed on ESPN), taxpayers were treated to not one, not two, but three sets of advertisements from state agencies. The Commonwealth Connector (the universal health coverage people) had a series of ads. Makes some sense — they want to get the word out to folks, given the individual mandate. Then an ad for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. I always find these in-state ads odd — I’m already here, aren’t I? Finally, the billboard behind home plate kept showing ““, which I learn this morning is the website for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. And that’s where I absolutely object. Why does a state economic […]