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.