THE PIONEER BLOG

Need a Lift?

For hundreds of years, the Tufts Medical Center has served as a research and teaching facility and a full service hospital for residents of Back Bay and the greater Boston area. Given the Center’s significance, a MBTA Orange Line stop was built underneath the hospital in the late 1980’s to allow patients and employees to […]

“Isn’t Everything Online and Free?” The Exclusivity of MA Law Libraries

There are 15 Trial Court Law Libraries in Massachusetts to service the Commonwealth’s 6.8 million residents. Publicly funded, they are a resource on Massachusetts laws for attorneys, judges, and the public. On the libraries’ website under the “What You Need to Know” section, they ask the question: “Isn’t everything online and free?” Their response: no. […]

The Reality of Cape Cod’s Population Trend

Cape Cod is known as a bustling tourist location that overflows with visitors eager to get close to the ocean during the stifling summer months. In fact, Cape Cod experiences a 50 percent increase in occupancy level between January and August. While the Cape continues to experience economic growth due to its booming tourism industry, […]

Boston is a global city. Here’s why that status is threatened

Boston is often touted as a “global city.” A quick Google search will tell you that Boston is one of the best cities in the world for everything from quality of life to tech startups to commercial real estate investment. While traditionally an economic indicator, there’s now a general understanding that global cities have certain […]

After the toll booths, where did the toll collectors go?

It has been almost two years since Massachusetts implemented fully cashless toll collection. The hope was to improve traffic flow, decrease harmful environmental emissions, increase safety and save money on personnel costs that could be redirected to maintenance or other capital projects. In 2016, 446 employees operated toll booths on the Mass Pike and Tobin […]

Newburyport, Abington and Beyond: How Should Massachusetts Towns Prepare for Legalized Recreational Marijuana?

Recreational marijuana businesses are legal in Massachusetts as of July 1, but many of the Commonwealth’s towns are still unsure about how to proceed. Even though voters enthusiastically approved Question 4 in 2016, the enthusiasm has not carried over to town governments. For example, in Milford, 52 percent of voters supported the statewide legalization initiative. […]

Income and education gaps, and the lack of mobility in Worcester County

Massachusetts is known to have some of the top public schools in the country. Its traditional, vocational, and charter schools are ranked best in the nation across a variety of disciplines. Gaining access to these schools, however, comes at a steep price. For example, Worcester County communities spend much of their overall budgets on education. […]

Has UMass used financial aid packages to favor out-of-state students?

A recent Pioneer Institute report concluded that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has more stringent admissions standards for Bay State students than it does for out-of-state students. Given that UMass is heavily funded by state residents’ tax dollars, some experts have questioned whether UMass is favoring out-of-state students and their tuition revenue rather than […]

the Boston skyline overlaid with money.

Which State Employees Make More than the Boss?

In 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections had 20 employees who were paid more than the commissioner’s salary of $159,645. Among these 20, the median income was $172,491. This highly-paid group accounted for $1.2 million in overtime spending — enough to hire seven more employees at that six-figure median salary.   Pioneer Institute wanted to […]

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 […]