Michael Widmer

Guest Contributor

Stories by Michael Widmer

Lack of public sector experience is troubling

Lack of public sector experience is troubling

MBTA's new GM has never worked in government before

THE APPOINTMENT OF LUIS RAMIREZ as the new general manager of the MBTA again raises the question of whether a successful private sector businessman or woman can make a successful transition to the public sector. One school of thought, usually offered by those with limited public sector experience, argues that proven business leaders can simply(...)

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What’s the rush on Medicaid reform?

What’s the rush on Medicaid reform?

Baker’s proposals deserve thorough, careful review

IN THE SUMMER OF 1972, then-governor Frank Sargent announced a series of steps to gain control over the escalating costs of the Medicaid program, which had been launched only a few years earlier. The annual costs were about $500 million. Nine governors and almost half a century later, with annual costs now at $16 billion,(...)

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FY18 budget shortfall could be $1b

FY18 budget shortfall could be $1b

Nipping and tucking won’t work in coming year

IT IS WIDELY RECOGNIZED on Beacon Hill, certainly among budget writers, that the fiscal 2018 budgets passed by the House and Senate depend on unrealistic revenue projections. But it is much less well understood that the revenue shortfall could approach $1 billion. How could that be? There are two parts to the answer — first,(...)

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Latest numbers undercut need for health care tax

Latest numbers undercut need for health care tax

MassHealth enrollment at same level as 15 months ago

THE LATEST DATA for the state’s MassHealth program indicate enrollment has stabilized, suggesting the assumption behind Gov. Charlie Baker’s health care tax on employers – that Medicaid rolls are soaring – is not supported by the evidence. In a previous column, I pointed out that enrollment had declined in November and December 2016 to the(...)

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Baker’s claim of soaring Medicaid rolls is faulty

Baker’s claim of soaring Medicaid rolls is faulty

Assumption underlying employer assessment may be wrong

WITH MUCH FANFARE last January, the Baker administration sounded the alarm that the Medicaid rolls were soaring because individuals were dropping their employer coverage and choosing instead to enroll in the more generous MassHealth program. To help address the budget problem, the administration proposed a broad tax on employers, mistakenly likening the proposal to the(...)

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With health assessment, Baker heading down familiar path

With health assessment, Baker heading down familiar path

Proposed levy has shades of Patrick's ill-considered software tax

“ONCE BURNED, twice shy.” Will the Legislature heed that aphorism in response to Gov. Baker’s proposed health care tax on employers to help balance the state’s fiscal 2018 and 2019 budgets? Four years ago, then-Gov. Patrick proposed a tax on computer software and services to help expand funding for transportation. He assured the Legislature that(...)

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Baker’s health care tax is bad policy

Baker’s health care tax is bad policy

It’s also not fair and a misreading of history

IN AN ERA OF ALTERNATIVE FACTS, a bit of revisionist history may seem like a small sin. But in the case of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed tax on employers who don’t offer a high level of health insurance, a misreading of history can have serious consequences. The governor claims that the “assessment” represents a revival(...)

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Boston property tax hike makes sense

Boston property tax hike makes sense

Voters should back community preservation surcharge

TAXES VS. INVESTMENTS. The tension between these two concepts has been at the center of public policy debates at all levels of government throughout American history. Putting aside the recurring but almost always specious claim that simply eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse will be sufficient to pay for needed public investments, the reality is that(...)

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The lessons of GE’s move to Boston

The lessons of GE’s move to Boston

We need to both invest and be more competitive

LURKING BEHIND GENERAL ELECTRIC’S DECISION to relocate its headquarters to Boston is the hotly debated issue of why businesses locate and grow in Massachusetts or decide to consolidate or expand in other states. In the case of GE, the governor, mayor, GE officials, the media, and commentators all joined in a chorus of praise for(...)

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A lesson on tuition for immigrants

A lesson on tuition for immigrants

Charging illegal immigrants in-state rate is a net plus

ALLOWING UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS in Massachusetts to pay in-state rates for tuition and fees for public colleges and universities is an emotional issue, similar to just about every other issue surrounding immigration in the US. But when we peel away the emotions and look at the facts, the case for extending in-state tuition to undocumented students(...)

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