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A Troubling Pattern Emerging?

Friday’s Globe has two articles on recent actions by the Governor — a view on his $1B biotech initiative and news of a $3.6 million bailout for the dairy industry. The biotech story discusses how this funding will help start-up companies through the ‘valley of death’ when financing is scarce. Having had a ringside seat to the internet bubble’s expansion and eventual collapse, I’d suggest that the valley of death has some utility and the notion that the government understands the science and market well enough to determine who should make it through strikes me as highly unlikely. The dairy farmer bailout is more direct. Dispensing with the typical niceties of concealing subsidies in tax credits or rebates, the bailout […]

Please, sir, I want some more.

In case you no longer listen to the radio, the Massachusetts Teachers Association last month launched a new ad campaign in which the voices of six students are heard asking for support for public education – from their parents, their communities and their government. As a former public school teacher, this ad annoys me for two reasons. 1) It reminds me yet again of the frustration I felt as a teacher that, though it was bad enough my salary was pittance because so much of school budgets are wasted, my take home pay was just that little bit smaller because I was required, without consent, to pay union dues that went to prop up a second bloated bureacracy and air […]

Feeding the Lions

Bill Weld used to say that unless you feed the lions (i.e. the press), they will feed on you. The first 100 days of the Patrick administration were a case study in that lesson (see drapes, Cadillac, etc.). However, they seem to have hit their stride recently, putting on major announcements which (whether you liked the ideas or not) managed to dominate the news cycle. First, it was the light bulbs/environmental announcement, then the $1b biotech initiative, and finally the anti-crime initiative. The anti-crime announcement was also a bit of creative political jujitsu. The Governor’s budget had not funded the program, yet he was able to take political credit for backfilling this ‘oversight’ through a supplemental budget.

How much does a kid cost?

Just below the surface of most land-use/housing debates is the cost of educating children. A lot of towns effectively zone out many types of affordable housing because they don’t believe they will receive property tax benefits high enough to educate the children who would live there. The UMass Donahue Institute takes a stab at answering this question based on actual cases from a number of metro Boston communities. I’d crudely summarize their findings as a matter of cost allocation methodology. You have three choices: Marginal Cost of New Housing — attempts to determine what new expenditures were required by the town for the new housing units. Very easy to determine for most services (e.g. did the police respond to any […]

Try, try, and try again

No one else seems to have noticed, but the Governor’s supplemental budget, filed on Thursday has this little nugget hidden all the way down in Section 23: Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the chief justice for administration and management may transfer among any items of appropriation within the trial court. The chief justice shall provide written notification to the house and senate committees on ways and means of any such transfers of funds within 30 days of the transfer. Pioneer has long supported this management reform, among many, many others. It was in the Governor’s House 1 budget but had not been heard from since.