Why Did the Department of Corrections Pay a Chef $166,762 last year?

Pioneer Institute’s MassOpenBooks transparency tool shows an employee listed in the Department of Corrections payroll as a “corrections officer/chef” with an income of $166,762 in 2017. His regular pay was $95,051, with $66,991 in overtime and $4,719 paid as “other”. His regular pay seems to have only been increased to adjust for inflation. His overtime, […]

Can State Pensioners Pay for Future Medically Necessary Long-term Care?

At some point many people find themselves needing help to care for themselves. For the elderly, nursing homes provide that help, either temporarily or on a long-term basis.   In 2014, there were 1.4 million individuals in nursing homes nation-wide, with 41,255 of them in Massachusetts. Nursing home residents accounted for 3.7 percent of citizens […]

True Transparency Needed for SFI’s

Pioneer has long called for the Statements of Financial Interests (SFIs) that elected officials and political candidates are required to file to be available online.  The State Ethics Commission must have been listening to us and other transparency enthusiasts that called on the Commonwealth to catch up to the times. While the forms can now […]

Long-term decline in area Catholic high school enrollment is likely to continue

Over a dozen Catholic schools affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston are governed by independent boards of trustees. Most of these schools offer programs to students in grades 9-12 (Figure 1). However, as private schools compete to attract talented students and, increasingly, traditional and charter public schools do the same, many Catholic schools are struggling […]

Troubling takeaways from the SJC ruling on charter schools

These would be the best of times for Boston public charter schools were education policy decisions driven by evidence.  Boston’s charters are nationwide models and uniquely successful at closing pernicious achievement gaps.  But in education politics, where “momentum” is too often the benchmark, charter skeptics are crowing about the loss of a ballot initiative to […]

Many Massachusetts towns choosing to forego marijuana tax revenue

Local officials, health advocates, and neighborhood group leaders in Massachusetts have long been wary of July 1st, 2018, the day marijuana enterprises will begin selling their products statewide. Drug deals will take place over retail countertops, not in back alleys. Home cultivators will be subject to safety inspections, not arrests.   That is true, of […]

Love It When the T Listens!

It seems MBTA officials were listening to this March segment of Bloomberg Radio’s Bay State Business. During the program, I was discussing simple ways to increase MBTA revenue without imposing an across-the-board fare hike. Raising fares may make sense in some scenarios, but where there is excess capacity, increasing ridership is a far more effective […]

Education spending influences demographic trends at even the smallest scale

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council has a habit of solving identity crises for Massachusetts towns. Operating chiefly in Greater Boston, the MAPC uses 5 broad “community types” (and 9 subtypes) to classify municipalities statewide based on criteria such as housing density, proximity to Boston, historical character, and capacity to develop further.   All of this […]

Income and Education Levels in Gateway Cities Well Below State Average as Debate over Chapter 70 Aid Formula Heats Up

Data from Pioneer’s online transparency toolset,, shows that the Gateway Cities have some of the lowest per-capita incomes in the Commonwealth, according to the most recent data from 2017. Education and income levels are intrinsically tied, and not surprisingly, high school graduation rates in the Gateway Cities lag well behind the rest of the […]

2,098 Mass. VA Employees Made $100,000 or More in 2017

According to the online transparency tool OpentheBooks, there were 7,816 Department of Veterans Affairs employees in Massachusetts in 2017. Remarkably, 2,098 of these, made six-figure incomes. Fifty-one administrators and doctors made more than $300,000 and 364 made more than $200,000. Salaries may be sky high, but there have been many complaints about the quality of […]

Can Cape Cod’s economy rely on tourism forever?

Cape Cod’s character has long been dependent on the season. As the leaves change colors in October and November, bustling summer colonies quickly transform into sleepy New England towns. This dichotomy has heightened in recent decades, and depopulation in the region has raised concerns about the economic sustainability of the Cape and the well-being of […]

How does the Commonwealth Pay for Roads?

Maintaining, safe, efficient public infrastructure challenges local, state and federal governments alike. Communities need to build new core public assets to support growing populations while maintaining those that are aging. Accomplishing those goals eats into local public works budgets. The Commonwealth provides funding to localities which help alleviate the burden cities and towns face. Routinely, […]