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More kids = More school expenditures, right?

Seems like a reasonable idea, and the basis for Chapter 70 Education aid, as well as the implicit justification for many towns in their zoning practices. However, a recent study by the notorious right-wingers at the UMass Donahue Institute found something very different in their recent study on the impact of affordable housing on school costs: Our analysis showed that school teaching staff levels and overall expenditures increased independently of changes in enrollment. From 1999 to 2004, school enrollments statewide were essentially flat, with 0.2 percent total growth, while the employment of full time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff increased by eight percent. Despite very limited growth in enrollment, total school expenditures grew by 28.6 percent statewide from 1999 to 2004. […]

Who’s to pay for affordable housing?

Martha’s Vinyard and Nantucket residents are advocating for a new levy on home sales to pay for affordable housing. State lawmakers are now debating this proposal for the islands. Lawmakers, developers, and housing advocates have been debating variations on this kind of policy for some time. Pioneer’s research shows that over half of communities in eastern Mass have zoning policies that either mandate or encourage developers of include affordable units in new developments, or pay a fee in lieu of building the affordable units. As of 2004, 11 cities and towns in eastern Mass required that a certain percent of new houses in ANY development be designated as affordable. Some developers and real estate experts question the legality of such […]

Digging Big into the state’s pocket

Ouch. The state has documented $173 million in new Big Dig cost overruns – and, worse, another $160 million in future costs. Gov. Deval Patrick noted his “continued frustration with the contractor” and, together with Speaker DiMasi, pooh-poohed Treasurer Cahill’s suggestion that we increase taxes – I mean, tolls – to pay for new and future overruns. The feds – yes, the same feds who bless the construction of bridges and highways to nowhere – are not going to pay any more for our project management failures. So we’re stuck waiting to see if we can post facto recover some of the cost overruns. That’s what the Speaker, Senate President and the Governor are all counting on – let’s let […]

. . . and the 2007 BGC Runners-Up and Special Recognition Awards

2007 Better Government Competition RUNNERS-UP Transforming a Bureaucracy City of Carrollton, Texas—By implementing an innovative Managed Competition program, Carrollton achieves “best value” service delivery while avoiding the problems of some competitive-contracting programs. Computerized Neighborhood Environment Tracking Worcester Regional Research Bureau—ComNET brings together citizens and technology to identify the physical problems of city neighborhoods, speeding up repairs and improving the quality of urban life. Four Proposals to Reform Special Education Special Education Day Committee—To reduce needless conflict, bureaucracy, and litigation, SPEDCO proposes a more collaborative and results-driven approach to public special education. Entrepreneurial Service Delivery Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority—Faced with declining visitation and rising expenses, NVRPA transformed its approach to deliver conservation and recreation services in a businesslike manner. SPECIAL […]

The 2007 Better Government Competition Winner is…

Now in its 16th year, Pioneer Institute’s annual Better Government Competition showcases innovative ideas and programs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government. Implementation of previous winning entries has saved Massachusetts citizens over $400 million. This year’s winner describes one community’s unique approach to development permitting, and how their approach could benefit cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. WINNER Unified Permitting System for the Redevelopment of Ft. Devens Devens Enterprise Commission—To speed the redevelopment of a town-sized army base, DEC is empowered to perform municipal administrative tasks that are typically splintered among many agencies. It carries out these duties in the context of a unique one-stop Unified Permitting System. This expedited approach encourages needed economic development, and similar programs […]