State Government

Thinking outside the infrastructure box

Thinking outside the infrastructure box

Is there room for modular sewage treatment plants?

IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE WORLD, the past casts a long shadow.  Decisions about where to place key public facilities—roads, tracks, and pipes—tend to have a type of permanence.  What’s more, they bake in policy decisions of previous eras, inadvertently affecting our own decisions today about how to provide important public services.  Disrupting the status quo isn’t(...)

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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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Budget uncertainty

There is one certainty with the fiscal 2018 budget: For the first time ever, Massachusetts will have a spending plan exceeding $40 billion to run state government. After that, there are lots of questions about where all the money will come from to pay the bills. The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved its budget(...)

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Beacon Hill budget blues

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Actually, don’t. But the temptation is understandable, as state officials do their best impression of a broken record and once again announce that revenues have not met projections, raising the prospect of mid-year budget cuts and putting a cloud over current work on the 2018 budget. The(...)

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Economy booms but state tax take craters

Economy booms but state tax take craters

April revenues fall $241m short of projections

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE STATE BUDGET PROBLEMS worsened considerably Wednesday after cratering April tax collections widened the revenue gap in this year’s budget and called into question assumptions for next year’s spending, setting up a major test of Gov. Charlie Baker’s ability to manage through the near-term dilemma without unilateral spending cuts or tapping into(...)

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T sees spike in reported injuries

T sees spike in reported injuries

More workers claim being hurt on the job as attendance policy is tightened

MBTA OFFICIALS SAID on Monday the number of on-the-job injuries among transportation operators soared during the first three months of the year as the transit authority tried to reduce the level of absenteeism among employees. Janice Brochu, chief of human resources for the MBTA, told the Fiscal and Management Control Board that the number of(...)

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Advocates hail challenge to Baker on public records

Advocates hail challenge to Baker on public records

Governor insists court decision exempts his office from law

TWO ADVOCATES for greater government transparency are applauding the state supervisor of public records for questioning Gov. Charlie Baker’s assertion that his office is not subject to the Public Records Law. Rebecca Murray, the public records supervisor, recently balked at Baker’s refusal to cough up records and referred the matter to Attorney General Maura Healey(...)

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DCR is an agency without a vision

DCR is an agency without a vision

Budget cuts are deliberate disinvestment in state’s parks

KUDOS TO THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION for stepping in to help the Department of Conservation andRecreation (DCR) focus on its core expertise – parks and parkways stewardship – by taking management of two state piers off DCR’s crowded plate. But changing day-to-day management responsibilities doesn’t solve the long-term problems our park system faces. That system continues(...)

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State needs to help with college funding

State needs to help with college funding

Resentment and anger building on campuses

YOU CAN OFTEN FIND ME and a few students at a table in the basement of the Northern Essex Community College Library while we discuss various issues that face our classmates. We are the Student Senate, and every week we sit around the same table to ponder strategy. Recently we reviewed the 2018 budget situation(...)

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Moving beyond health cost targets

Moving beyond health cost targets

A struggle for the soul of the Health Policy Commission

IN LATE MARCH, the board of the Health Policy Commission voted unanimously to leave the 2018 cost growth benchmark for total state health care expenditures at 3.1 percent. This target for per-person growth in health spending was set under our 2012 cost containment law as the predicted growth in the state’s overall economy for 2018(...)

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