Study: Pandemic Pension Bonus Bills Would Cost Billions and Unfairly Favor Highly Compensated Public Employees

Two identical bills to reward public employees with a retirement credit bonus for working during the COVID-19 emergency are currently pending in each chamber of the Massachusetts Legislature.  The bills would add billions of dollars in liabilities to public pension funds and reward workers based on their compensation, years of service and age rather than the type or duration of the work performed during the emergency, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Pioneer Applauds MassDOT for Allston Project All At-Grade Plan

Pioneer Institute applauds the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass DOT) for its decision to move forward with an all at-grade design for the “throat” area as part of the massive $1.7 billion Allston I-90 Interchange project announced yesterday by State Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler. Pioneer had proposed that MassDOT should revise its Scoping Report on the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project and recommend an additional option - a modified at-grade option for the throat area - to the Federal Highway Administration.

Pioneer Institute Statement on the Commonwealth’s Discontinuance of the COVID-19 Weekly Public Health Report

Useful information about COVID cases or deaths at individual homes has become less available at a time when cases are increasing again, even among vaccinated residents. Pioneer urges Massachusetts to immediately reinstate the so-called Weekly Report, which contains cases and deaths inside individual nursing homes.

Public Statement on Implementation of the Charitable Giving Deduction

Despite being awash in cash, the state Legislature just overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of a provision to delay by yet another year a tax deduction for charitable donations. Rep. Mark Cusack, House chair of the Joint Committee on Revenue, said “it doesn’t mean no, just not now.” If not now, when?

Public Statement on the MA Legislature’s Blanket Pension Giveaway

Beacon Hill just put on full display what happens when it is awash in money. House Bill 2808 is entitled, “An Act relative to providing a COVID-19 retirement credit to essential public workers.”  It calls for adding three years of additional retirement credit to state “employees who have volunteered to work or have been required to work at their respective worksites or any other worksite outside of their personal residences during the COVID-19 state of emergency…” But upon reading the brief bill, it quickly becomes clear that this legislation is irresponsible in the extreme.

Open Letter: Extend the Term of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board

Read Pioneer Institute's Open Letter urging policymakers to extend the term of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB), which is currently scheduled to sunset at the end of June.  The Letter also calls for the Control Board to continue to be made up of transit experts rather than political appointees, and recommends that an independent audit office be created that reports directly to the FMCB.

Pioneer Institute Statement on MBTA Service Cuts

Even as MBTA ridership and revenue have been gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the system remains a lifeline for so many residents in the Greater Boston area, especially those working in essential services like health care or in industries most impacted by the pandemic such as the restaurant sector.  Facing a crisis of this magnitude, T leadership must first do its all to rethink how it delivers services before reflexively making cuts.

Pioneer Institute Statement on Governor Baker’s New COVID Restrictions

Read Pioneer Institute's public statement about Gov. Charlie Baker's new executive orders related to the state’s reopening plan that will go into effect on Nov. 6, issued in response to a significant uptick in COVID infections in Massachusetts,

Pioneer Decries New Travel Order as Unnecessarily Intrusive and Divisive

Pioneer Institute is disappointed at certain extreme aspects of Governor Baker’s executive order that goes into effect tomorrow.

COVID-19 Silver Lining: MBTA Takes Advantage of Ridership Lull to Accelerate $8.5 Billion Modernization Program

Pioneer Institute congratulates the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) and MBTA management for taking advantage of the precipitous ridership declines due to the COVID pandemic to dramatically accelerate ongoing construction projects.

New Pioneer Institute Hotline Allows Public to Report Violations of Open Meeting Law

/
With most public meetings taking place remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pioneer Institute has unveiled an online hotline that allows members of the public to report potential violations of the Commonwealth’s and other states' Open Meeting Law.

Pioneer Institute Looks Ahead to the Protection of Civil Liberties

Challenges to Americans’ civil liberties have increased in recent years.  History teaches us that during national emergencies governments are even more likely to overstep and violate constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. To address this concern, Pioneer Institute has created “Respect My Rights,” a web-based hotline to which citizens can submit complaints and descriptions of violations they have experienced.

Survey Suggests Demand for Telecommuting After COVID-19 Crisis

Citing an avoidance of the commute and more flexible scheduling, nearly 63 percent of respondents to Pioneer Institute’s survey, “Will You Commute To Work When The COVID-19 Crisis Is Over?” expressed a preference to work from home one day a week, and a plurality preferred two to three days a week, even after a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Respondents cite social isolation as the biggest drawback of remote work. The survey was conducted from April 22nd to May 15th, and received responses from over 700 individuals.

Study Highlights Transit Agency Best Practices in Response to COVID-19

The MBTA is taking a number of important steps to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus, but some transit agencies around the country - from Philadelphia to San Francisco - have done significantly more, according to a new study that highlights the best practices of U.S. transit systems in response to COVID-19.

New Video Highlights Need for Greater Access to Public Officials’ Financial Ties

With as new animated video, Pioneer Institute aims to inform the public about barriers to accessing Massachusetts elected officials’ financial information.

A Control Board Equipped for the Next Phase of MBTA Reform

In a new policy brief out today, Pioneer Institute calls on the Massachusetts Legislature to extend the life of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board beyond the current fiscal year ending on June 30, and adjust it to address the agency's new challenges.

Survey: MA Least Transparent State at Making State Official Financial Disclosures Public

New rankings from Pioneer Institute show that among the states that require financial disclosures of elected officials and other significant policy makers, Massachusetts is the least transparent.

Pioneer Urges MassDOT to Reconsider At-Grade Throat Option for I-90 Allston Multimodal Project

Pioneer's new Public Comment calls on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to revise its Scoping Report on the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project and recommend an additional option to the Federal Highway Administration.

Press Release: Pioneer Releases First in Series of Videos Promoting Commuter Benefits Program

Watch Pioneer's first animated video promoting Perq, the MBTA’s commuter benefits program, which can help individuals save money and restore work/life balance.

Study Finds Revived Merit Rating Board Taking Steps to Carry Out Statutorily Mandated Duties

The Merit Rating Board’s recent adoption of a regular meeting schedule, and related resolutions, are important steps in light of that Board’s 1976 governing statute.

Pioneer Institute Announces Winner of 29th Annual Better Government Competition

Pioneer Institute is pleased to announce that Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)’s program, “Operation Farm Team: Global Transportation Infrastructure Workforce Initiative” is the winner of the 29th annual Better Government Competition. The theme of the 2019 contest was, “Moving People, Moving Goods, Moving Forward,” focusing on innovations that prepare America for the future of transportation.

Pioneer Institute to Recognize Winners of 29th Annual Better Government Awards at Gala

Speakers to include National Transportation Safety Board Vice…

Study Calls for Easing MBTA Procurement Restrictions and Beefing Up Project Management Capacity

Reforms needed if T is to achieve increased capital spending…

Pioneer Institute Public Statement: A Season for Management Reforms

The MBTA's red and green line derailments this week highlight…

Moving Forward into the Future: Enter the Better Government Competition

/
Summer 2019 is starting and so far, the year has been full of…

Teacher Unions Support Progressive Taxation, but Maintain Flat-Rate Membership Dues Structure

Study shows lowest-paid teachers can pay up to 140 percent more…

Whistleblowers Were Proven Right: MBTARF Was Underreporting Its Unfunded Pension Liabilities

In a new brief, Pioneer shows that whistleblowers’ 2015 claim…

Pioneer Institute Public Statement on the MBTA’s Proposal to Increase Fares by 6.3 Percent

While Pioneer Institute opposed the 2016 MBTA fare increases,…