This Week at Pioneer

On transportation, it's Still “Reform Before Revenue”: With unemployment rising and state revenues falling short of expectations, elected leaders are once again floating a proposal to increase the gas tax. The plan, to be published on January 7th, calls for “robust taxes” to cover the $1 billion-per-year transportation finance gap. Pioneer's take: we have no business asking the public to pay more, and putting economic growth at risk, until state transportation policy makers can show us how they're spending our money. Read more about what specific steps we've called for.

Just weeks after the election, state legislative staffers got $750,000+ in pay raises. Here's Pioneer's Jim Stergios in the Boston Herald: “When there’s a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s a time when taxpayers find it really hard to swallow this.”

What are we doing to help rescue poor and minority children from chronically under-performing school districts in Massachusetts' cities? Not enough, says Mary Z. Connaughton in this MetroWest Daily op-ed. This is an issue that all political parties should get behind.

But even in leafy communities like Wellesley, not all families are being well served. For instance, parents whose children have been rejected for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) have to foot the hefty bill for an independent assessment to appeal the school's decision. Pioneer wanted to know how many students get turned down, forcing those families who can afford it to go through this expensive assessment process; and how many of these then get approved? It appears that Wellesley, for one, doesn't keep track – and a public records request for that data was met with a quote of $3,528. Read the story

Check out our op-ed on how the Patrick Administration prioritizes gambling casinos over our children's understanding of US History, including appreciation of our country's Native American heritage

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This Week at Pioneer

Where Have All the Students Gone?

Check out Pioneer's new report on  declining student enrollment in the Bay State. Some surprising shifts from our 2008 version (hint: the declines aren't concentrated solely on the Cape and in Western Mass. anymore). What's the likely financial and political impact? Read the report.

Jim Stergios finds a silver lining in Election 2012 – at least in the field of education. Indiana's elected schools chief, Tony Bennett (R), was defeated – and some make a strong case that it's because of his full embrace of Common Core national education standards. Read the EdWeek coverage here. Seems there's a lesson here…   

Last night, Pioneer members and core supporters gathered for our annual Lovett C. Peters Lecture in Public Policy. The lecture recognizes true visionaries who are making a big impact on their society. Our honoree this year is Dr. Deepak Srivastava, of the California-based Gladstone Institutes. His pioneering work in regenerative medicine using adult stem cells will someday cure heart disease and so many other serious illnesses. He appeared on Kara Miller's radio show, Innovation Hub, yesterday. Click here to listen to the clip. 

Last week, Boston Globe reporter Chelsea Conaboy talked with Josh Archambault, Pioneer's health care policy director, about where opponents of the Affordable Care Act go from here.

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