Senior Policy Analyst
Phineas Baxandall is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, focusing on transportation and tax revenue, as well as unemployment, EITC, and state aid to municipalities.
Before joining MassBudget, Phineas directed the Transportation and Tax & Budget programs for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and its network of 30 state affiliate organizations.
Prior to his work with U.S. PIRG, Phineas was Assistant Director at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was a teaching fellow for eight years at Harvard’s Committee for Degrees in Social Studies, where he lectured on social policy and political economy. He has published on a variety of topics in political economy and public policy, and his 2004 book, Constructing Unemployment, was recently republished by Routledge press. He was a long-time editorial board member for Dollars & Sense magazine.
Phineas earned a Ph.D. from MIT in Political Science and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
States rely on borrowing to manage their finances in good times and bad. Yet borrowing is not a substitute for raising the revenue needed for an economic recovery. Policymakers should look to raising progressive new revenues paired with limited borrowing to avoid cuts to critical public spending.
As a result of the pandemic, municipalities face increased spending needs and declining revenues. Many have the ability to raise property taxes, though others are constrained by Proposition 2 1/2. Moreover, property taxes tend to fall hardest on those with lower incomes. Without sufficient municipal aid, cities and towns may be forced to make public cuts which would slow the economic recovery.
The Commonwealth has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences by implementing several bold new federal unemployment policies that are also supported with federal funds. These have provided crucial protection to many workers and the economy, though undocumented workers have been excluded. Since late April, the greatest volume of unemployment claims have been for a new program for workers traditionally ineligible for unemployment insurance. Without new federal legislation, this program will expire at the end of the year. The federally-funded $600 enhancement to weekly benefits will expire at the end of July. The loss of these benefits would hurt many workers and slow the state’s economic recovery.