THE PIONEER BLOG
If you regularly ride the MBTA commuter rail, you’ve probably experienced a number of delays, patchy service, limited parking, overcrowding, and outdated equipment. But some would-be riders have significant difficulty boarding the train in the first place at most stations – namely, the elderly, disabled, and otherwise mobility-impaired individuals. The problem is that many of the system’s 143 station stops were designed in the 19th century, long before the Americans with Disabilities Act mandated accommodating people in wheelchairs. As a result, a 2018 MBTA report listed a paltry 36 percent of commuter rail stations as “fully handicapped accessible” and 24 percent of the stations as requiring riders to climb stairs to board a train. Another 40 percent are “partially […]
In 2014, MassDOT proposed the construction of West Station, a new transit hub in Allston-Brighton that would significantly improve the connectivity of Boston’s western suburbs with Cambridge and North Station. Using an old freight corridor called the Grand Junction Railroad, the project initially seemed like a neat work-around to the inevitably exorbitant costs and disruptiveness of the North-South Rail Link, at least for Framingham/Worcester Line users. Unfortunately, MassDOT’s recent designs for the station will potentially limit accessibility to new destinations and old ones alike. Instead of a four-track ideal that would accommodate both inbound and outbound travel on each branch, MassDOT wants to limit local Framingham/Worcester Line trips to a single track to accommodate two express trains that existing […]
In an Open Letter to the Massachusetts Governor, Pioneer Institutes presents its concerns about the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project, and its impact on those who will be most affected during the project’s construction
Despite recent good news about declines in alcohol, traditional cigarette, and hard drug use among young people, it seems that retailers of these heavily regulated (or just plain illegal) substances aren’t going away any time soon. The number of Massachusetts bars and nightclubs – or, in the words of the Census Bureau, “places primarily engaged in preparing and serving alcoholic beverages for immediate consumption” – has wavered between about 700 and 800 since the late 1990s in a pattern that, amusingly (and probably coincidentally), seems countercyclical (see Figure 1). Figure 1: Source: Your-economy Time Series However, more concerning than the trend in drinking establishments is the trend in tobacco stores, defined as “establishments primarily engaged in retailing cigarettes, cigars, […]
As we do each January, Pioneer shares the resolutions it hopes state leaders will adopt to bring government actions into better focus and invigorate our democracy with heightened public engagement.
In 2018, Worcester had 111,553 employees and 10,546 businesses. The number of businesses grew by 51% from 1998 to 2018, while the total number of employees increased by 1% (see Figure 1 below). However, the number of employees in the city declined by 20% between 2008 and 2011, which largely coincides with the Great Recession. Employment growth in Worcester has generally been positive since the end of the recession, keeping pace with population growth. Figure 1: Trends in the number of employees and number of businesses in the city of Worcester, Worcester County, and Massachusetts as a whole Overall, trends in business and employment growth in Worcester closely resemble those of the […]
From 1998 to 2018 in Massachusetts, employment in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector grew by 45% and the number of establishments grew by 149%, as seen in Figures 1.a. and 1.b. below. The number of establishments has increased steadily over time with the exception of 2014-2015, while employment growth has fluctuated after the 2008 recession. Generally, year-to-year changes in employment and the number of establishments are positively correlated, with the major exception of the recession in 2008-2010, in which employment in the industry contracted and the number of business establishments grew. Figure 1.a. The number of employees in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry in Massachusetts over time Figure 1.b. The number of employers in the Health […]
Before the clock strikes 12:00 on December 31st, read our 12 great reasons to make a contribution or deepen your commitment to Pioneer Institute!
The Pioneer Institute recently released a new index rating the transparency and accessibility of each state’s Statements of Financial Interest. SFIs are disclosures used to determine if elected officials and policymakers have potential conflicts of interest. Pioneer’s new index finds that, among states with procedures for reporting SFIs, Massachusetts has the lowest raw score (15 on a scale of 100). Ironically, states that commonly rank among the most politically corrupt in the country – like Illinois, Louisiana, and New York – have index scores of 90 or higher. Pioneer’s rating is based on 7 underlying criteria: whether the SFIs are available online, whether the form is electronically searchable, whether the reports are free for the public to access, […]
Bob and Cara talk with Jason Bedrick, EdChoice’s director of policy, about New York’s controversial “substantial equivalency” proposal that would give the state Department of Education oversight of school curricula at yeshivas and other private and parochial academies.
In the final video of a new three-part animated series, Pioneer Institute explores how the MBTA’s commuter benefit program called Perq saves you money, lowers your tax burden, and shortens your commute – all while helping the planet.
New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut joins “The Learning Curve” podcast this week, plus Bob & Cara break down the new NAEP results, and share education stories out of Denver and Detroit.
In part two of a new three-part animated video series, Pioneer Institute highlights an MBTA commuter pass program called Perq, that helps Greater Boston businesses attract and retain top talent, and results in savings through tax benefits. The video features two characters, one of whom recommends that the other, an employer, begin offering Perq. She then describes how many businesses already use the program, how it generates savings, and the impact on employee retention and productivity. Companies looking to participate in the program can visit the MBTA’s Perq website: https://perq.mbta.com/. The 2018 Pioneer Institute white paper, “Increasing MBTA Ridership and Revenues with Company Commuter Benefit Programs,” found that a 20 percent jump in employer and employee participation could increase annual T revenue by […]
A new video about the METCO program centers around the friendship between two Wayland High School students; one who lives in Wayland and the other from Boston. It also features interviews with METCO CEO Milly Arbaje-Thomas and Mabel Reid-Wallace, Director of Wayland’s METCO program.
Understanding debt limits Municipalities issue debt to fund long-term capital projects such as schools and other buildings. In well-run communities, bond terms align with the lives of the capital assets being funded, a practice that provides resources for future projects. Paying debt service on assets long out of use can have dire financial consequences. So who decides when bonds should be issued? Cities, towns, and special purpose districts may authorize indebtedness by a two-thirds vote of their respective legislative bodies. A municipality’s statutory debt limit is based on equalized valuations (EQV). The EQV represents the estimated value of all taxable property in each municipality, an amount that is regulated and reviewed every three years by the Commonwealth’s Bureau of Local […]