Tag Archive for: transparency

John Phelan, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Northwest Massachusetts’ Reliance on Industry Levies

Some towns in NW Massachusetts spend significantly more per capita than their neighbors, without using methods such as large state funding, deficit spending, and high taxes. These towns gain significant portions of their revenue from industry tax levies.

Sunshine Week 2024

Partly Sunny with a Chance of Transparency As Pioneer Institute…

The Necessity of Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting: MA Provides a Shining Example

Revenue collections, predicted revenue, and expenditures are among the most important data points states report. Without accurate predictions and regular reporting, the legislature and governor's office may go over or under budget, potentially leaving citizens and policymakers in the dark about the fiscal health of the state. For this reason, all states regularly report those numbers and update estimates based on trends, overall economic conditions, and expected changes as a result of new state policies. However, even among the New England states, the transparency and accessibility of such reporting varies greatly and, as a result, limits analysts’ ability to meaningfully compare state revenues and judge performance in real time.

Boston Children’s, MGH Among Massachusetts Hospitals with Highest Relative Commercial Prices

Pioneer Institute's new tool, the Massachusetts Hospital Relative Price Tracker, displays relative price and facilitates relative price comparisons among hospitals. The average price among all hospitals will have a relative price of 1.0. A relative price of 1.5 means that a hospital charges 50 percent higher than the average of all Massachusetts hospitals. Similarly, a relative price of 0.84 means that a hospital’s prices are 16 percent below average. Relative price data is collected and reported by the Commonwealth’s Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) and is an aggregate measure used to evaluate price variations among different hospitals. It is recalculated annually based on data collected from commercial payers and includes information on private commercial insurance and commercially managed public insurance products such as Medicare Advantage and Medicaid Managed Organizations/Accountable Care Partnership Plans.

Black Box Budget: Late, Loaded, and Lacking Transparency

Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute’s Senior Fellow in Economic Opportunity Eileen McAnneny about the features and flaws of the recently passed 2024 Massachusetts state budget now waiting for Governor Healey’s approval.

MBTA retirement fund is headed for a financial reckoning

The new MBTA Retirement Fund Actuarial Valuation Report shows the fund is only about 51 percent funded. In 2006, it was 94 percent funded. A “death spiral” generally accelerates when retirement system funding dips below 50 percent.

Transparency, Please! MBTA Resists Disclosure of Arbitration Award

Joe Selvaggi talks with attorney for Pioneer Public Interest Law Center (PPILC) John La Liberte, about the work he did to successfully gain access to the MBTA retirement fund’s arbitration agreement after a seven-month legal struggle.

Transparent Home Buying: Real Estate Auction Platform Informs and Empowers Everyone

Joe Selvaggi talks with Tim Quirk and Kevin Caulfield, cofounders of Boston based technology startup, Final Offer, about the way in which their recently launched platform disrupts the traditional home buying process by providing a real time transparent auction for each sale.

Pioneer Commends MA Governor-elect Healey’s Step Toward Greater Transparency

Pioneer Institute commends Governor-elect Maura Healey for choosing not to claim a public records exemption for the governor’s office. Governor-elect Healey also pledged to support legislation that would curb exemptions claimed by the legislative and judiciary branches of state government.

Massachusetts Needs a Comprehensive Performance Management Framework

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Many states have made promoted government efficiency and effectiveness by setting goals and tracking their progress. Massachusetts tried making a performance structure, but in 2014 it was discontinued. Today, the state lacks a comprehensive structure to track progress.

New Report: Massachusetts Maintains Reasonable Debt Relative to GSP

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Massachusetts has more debt than any New England state. Can we afford to pay it off or will we hand it down to future generations?

A Decade of Culture and Recreation Spending on Cape Cod

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Culture and Recreation are among the most important services…

Pioneer Institute Applauds Secretary Galvin’s Legislation to Subject Governor’s Office to Public Records Law, Calls for End to Legislative Exemption

Pioneer Institute applauds Secretary of State William Galvin for filing legislation that would subject the governor’s office to the Commonwealth’s public records law.  Since 1997, Massachusetts governors have broadly interpreted the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling in Lambert v. Judicial Nominating Council to shield themselves from releasing certain documents.  Secretary Galvin’s legislation would prohibit future governors from doing so.

Removal of Mass. and Cass encampment long overdue

Michelle Wu’s plan to clear tents from the Mass. and Cass homeless camping site by January 12 is long overdue. If only it had been done earlier, the move could have averted a humanitarian crisis.

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?

A Rare Victory for Transparency. Massachusetts Could Use Many More.

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Massachusetts is in the midst of wrongdoing on an unprecedented scale. Thousands of convictions had to be vacated because of the corruption of state drug laboratory chemists. Thousands more convictions were vacated because of the combined misconduct of the chemists and prosecutors. And still more will be vacated because of the Commonwealth’s repeated and deliberate failures to investigate the extent to which its evidence was compromised.

Struggling For Sunshine: Transparency’s Power To Keep Leaders Accountable

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Host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute's Mary Z. Connaughton about the value of transparency and Pioneer’s extensive work to provide greater access to legislative and policy information to hold elected officials accountable and build trust in our state government. Read Pioneer Institute's Sunshine Week Transparency Resolutions.

Pioneer Institute’s 2021 Government Transparency Resolutions: Sunshine Week Edition

As it does each year, 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. As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

Survey: Consumers Want Healthcare Price Information, But Few Realize It’s Available

Great strides have been made to increase healthcare price transparency through online cost estimator tools and a state law that requires providers to give out price information. Yet despite the eagerness of consumers to access prices and out-of-pocket costs, many are unaware that such information is available and don’t know how to access it, according to survey results published by Pioneer Institute.

Healthcare Price Transparency in Massachusetts: Results from a survey of Massachusetts consumers regarding healthcare price transparency 

In June 2019, Pioneer Institute, with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, contracted with noted pollster David Paleologos, head of DAPA Research at Suffolk University’s Research Bureau, to conduct a valid and reliable survey of Massachusetts consumers with employer sponsored health insurance. The goals of the survey were to determine consumers’ awareness, attitudes, views, usage, and knowledge of healthcare prices. This white paper presents analysis of the results.

COVID-19 Transparency – A Step Backwards

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Massachusetts has unfortunately taken the backwards step of ending its longstanding daily reporting of something basic and important: the virus’s cumulative impact on various age groups.

Executive branch overreach, blanket orders having harmful effects

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At the outset of the pandemic, limited knowledge and the need to mitigate risk understandably led to political overreach. At this point in the disaster response, though, we are far better at distinguishing fact from fiction and policies that have worked from those that have not.

Study: Shift from Highest-Priced Healthcare Providers Would Generate Tremendous Savings

Consumers in just one Massachusetts county could have saved nearly $22 million in a single year and $116.6 million adjusted for inflation over four years if they switched from using the most expensive providers for 16 shoppable healthcare services to those whose prices were closer to average, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

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

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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.

National Study Finds Most States Lack Healthcare Price Transparency Laws

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has caused massive shifts in state policies on telehealth and scope of practice in healthcare, a new Pioneer Institute study underscores that most of the 50 states continue to suffer from weak laws regarding price transparency.  The study identified states that have laws that require carriers, providers or both to provide personalized cost information to consumers before obtaining healthcare services.  Fully 33 states placed in the lowest of the three broad analytic tiers on the strength of their state healthcare transparency laws. 

Pioneer Institute Relaunches “One-Stop Shop” for Education Performance Data

Pioneer Institute is re-launching a new and improved MassReportCards.org, a one-stop shop for information on Massachusetts public schools, including test performance, school finance, and much more. The new version of the site includes additional and updated data, and is more user friendly than the original. MassReportCards adds to Pioneer’s suite of online transparency tools, MassWatch.

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.

Pioneer Institute’s Government Transparency Resolutions 2020

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.

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.

Time to Say “Cut” on Massachusetts’ Film Tax Credit?

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State Senate President Karen Spilka is taking preliminary steps…