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In The News

Districts expecting less state education money

Bay State Banner, July 1, 2020

“We shouldn’t keep passing the buck,” said Colin Jones, senior policy analyst at Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “It makes no sense for individual districts and child care providers to be going into a completely out-of-control market for PPE and equipment individually.”

Commissioner: Fed aid won’t solve child care system woes

Daily Hampshire Gazette, July 1, 2020

Last week, the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated that early education and family day care homes will need $690 million over the next five months to successfully reopen, cautioning that child care is a key foundation for virtually all other economic sectors because it enables parents to work.

Task force: Child care constraints threaten Cape recovery

Cape Cod Times, June 25, 2020

An investment of $690 million in federal and state funding during the next five months will be needed to bring the early education system out of closure and into continued operation, according to a report issued by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center earlier this week. “Without significant additional funding from the state or federal governments, the early education system in Massachusetts will be unable to reopen successfully and remain financially viable over the coming months as parents return to work,” the report stated. The report also notes the workforce that could be particularly hard-hit by closures are primarily low-salaried and “almost entirely women, and with more people of color and foreign-born workers compared to Massachusetts at large.”

At 'financial risk,' child care system needs $690M, says report

Boston Business Journal, June 24, 2020

In its new report, the nonprofit MassBudget estimated early education providers lost up to $250 million in private tuition each month of the shutdown. Now, providers may also face a 20% increase in the cost of operations due to new safety protocols and disruptions of enrollment. “Families with options, such as keeping kids home with family or private caregivers, may choose to move away from group child care entirely, further financially destabilizing the system,” the report said. The report noted low-income families and families of color are “more likely” to be hurt by child care center closures during the pandemic. “Accessible early education and care for young kids and their families is vital to the recovery of our economy from the Covid-19 crisis,” the report said.

Rep. Barber files bill to close corporate loopholes, raise progressive revenue, and fill budget gaps

The Somerville Times, June 24, 2020

“Raising new revenue responsibly is a critical tool to support and sustain our recovery,” said Rep. Barber. “Revenue the state would receive from recoupling to the GILTI provision could be used to fund our COVID-19 response, as well as our critical needs including equitable education funding, transportation and local services, making our Commonwealth stronger financially in the long-run.” “Our future hangs in the balance as we see billions of dollars potentially drained from schools, mass transit, and the public good” said Marie-Frances Rivera, President of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Corporations who are profitable during this time have a moral obligation to pay their fair share and invest in our collective future.”

Education funding shortfall could spur new lawsuit

Commonwealth Magazine, June 23, 2020

This year was supposed to be the first year of funding under the new formula. In his January budget proposal, Baker proposed adding $303.8 million in new state aid to school districts, compared to the amount distributed in fiscal 2020. Because of the way Baker wanted to phase in changes related to low-income students, that represented slightly less than one-seventh of the total implementation cost, which the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center pegged at $375 million a year. But with the coronavirus pandemic tanking state revenues, Baker’s budget proposal is essentially meaningless. In the absence of an annual budget, the state plans to base its aid distributions to districts for July and August on the amounts they received this year.

COVID Tax Woes Delay Funding For $1.4 Billion Student Opportunity Act

WGBH, June 22, 2020

"Not having this additional funding is a recipe for disaster at this point," Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, told WGBH News. "It's essentially $300 million that districts across the commonwealth" will lose, Rivera said, referring to the amount of money in the governor's pre-COVID budget for the Student Opportunity Act in fiscal 2021. That will affect mainly gateway cities who serve the most kids of color and low income kids and English language learners, she added. "Those districts were expecting this infusion of cash, which they're not going to get," said Rivera.

Undocumented employees at greatest risk in economic downturn, says report

Boston Business Journal, June 8, 2020

Almost half of the employed undocumented people in Massachusetts are at high risk of losing their jobs or income because of the coronavirus, according to a new report by MassBudget. As a result of businesses having to shut down to slow the spread of Covid-19, 55,000 out of the 122,000 employed undocumented people could lose their jobs, the nonprofit MassBudget said in its report. The estimates are likely low, as finding accurate numbers of undocumented people is difficult, the report notes. MassBudget is urging lawmakers to support these workers through financial relief for those with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, a move that could benefit about 57,000 adults and children, some of whom are likely undocumented, according to MassBudget. Similar to the Federal CARES Act, this bill would provide stimulus checks to those who cannot get a social security number.

Report: Undocumented immigrants at risk of losing work, pay

Commonwealth Magazine, June 8, 2020

Nearly half of the undocumented immigrants employed in the state, an estimated 55,000 workers, were at risk of losing their job or losing pay because their workplace had to close during the COVID-19 shutdowns, according to a report issued Monday. The analysis by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a liberal-leaning policy think tank, said workers without legal status in the country are disproportionately employed in sectors that have experienced widespread closures due to the pandemic. These include jobs that require close customer interactions, such as those at restaurants, hotels, and barbershops. The Mass. Budget report highlighted state legislation that would offer financial relief to people who hold Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) — some of whom are undocumented. Workers can get an ITIN number with a foreign passport.

New unemployment claims continue to slow in Massachusetts

SouthCoast Today, June 6, 2020

In a Wednesday analysis, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center warned that the state's economic recovery could suffer if federal lawmakers do not extend the PUA program, which runs through the end of 2020, or if policy granting a bonus $600 per week to all benefit recipients is allowed to expire at the end of July. "Bold federal policies to strengthen unemployment insurance have been a crucial source of funds for many workers whose income has been interrupted," Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at MassBudget who authored the report, said in a press release. "If these benefits are allowed to expire before the Massachusetts economy has recovered, a lot of people and prospects for growth will be harmed."

Economists urge Beacon Hill to raise taxes

Taunton Daily Gazette, May 26, 2020

“Large cuts would erode the health and social infrastructure needed to continue combatting COVID-19, increase an already high level of inequality, and exacerbate the economic downturn. Instead of budget cuts, the state should look to raise revenues to balance its budget,” the economists wrote in a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders that was distributed Tuesday by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Raising the personal income tax and the corporate tax “are fair ways to do this, since they fall only on persons with incomes and businesses with profits,” the economists wrote, projecting that a 1 percentage point increase in the income tax could raise $2.5 billion per year while a 1 percentage point increase in the corporate tax rate could raise $180 million per year “even if the income tax base falls by 25 percent and the corporate tax base falls by 50 percent during this recession.” This is not the time for an austerity budget,” MassBudget President Marie-Frances Rivera said in a statement. “The economists’ letter underscores how public spending cuts would lengthen an oncoming recession, as it would take money out of our local economy that would otherwise recirculate and spur economic activity. Furloughing public employees, cutting state contracts to businesses and nonprofits, and reducing assistance to municipalities and low-income families will take money out of the Massachusetts economy, prolonging and deepening the recession. Avoiding budget cuts through targeted tax increases is the best way to build a strong recovery in Massachusetts.”

Group of economists push for tax hikes to balance Massachusetts state budget

Boston Herald, May 26, 2020

A group of 91 Massachusetts economists are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders to raise personal income and corporate taxes amid projected massive coronavirus-induced decreases in tax revenues. They claim it’s the only “fair” way to balance next year’s budget and avoid spending cuts — even as homeowners and businesses try to dig out of an economic hole. “In a recession, balancing the budget by cutting spending has a more negative impact on economic growth than balancing the budget by raising taxes. Both the personal income tax and the corporate tax are fair ways to do this, since they fall only on persons with incomes and businesses with profits,” the economy and public policy experts wrote in their May 26 letter to Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka.

Other revenue options besides personal income tax

Boston Globe, May 22, 2020

Massachusetts faces crucial decisions about how to fund our public services, and thus I deeply appreciated the perspective of economists Alicia Sasser-Modestino, Alan Clayton-Matthews, and Michael Goodman in their recent op-ed (With plummeting revenues, state should impose a temporary tax increase, Opinion, May 16). As we face an unprecedented economic freefall, cuts to public services will do far more damage than asking people who can afford it to contribute a little more in taxes. While the authors refer to an increase in the personal income tax to help offset revenue declines, there are many other options to fund the essential services we all rely on. Among them, are dozens of ineffective corporate tax breaks that together now cost the Commonwealth over $1 billion a year. One example: The single sales factor tax break forfeits $180 million per year to mutual fund companies, an industry that has shed thousands of jobs in our state over the last two decades. As state revenues plummet, we must discuss the most effective use of these dollars during this unprecedented crisis. With so many of our friends and families undergoing economic distress, how we invest in our people and the public good, including health care, schools, and transit will reflect our values now more than ever. - Marie-Frances Rivera, President, MassBudget

Child care choices limited for returning workers

Gloucester Times, May 20, 2020

Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank, said the state needs to provide more support and guidance. "Parents should not be forced to work when circumstances such as lack of safe and affordable child care make it impossible," she said in a statement.

Bill Seeks To Offer Equal Stimulus Checks To Immigrant Taxpayers

North End Waterfront, May 14, 2020

According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, approximately 57,000 Massachusetts residents live in a household with an ITIN filer. To provide assistance that would fill the gaps left by federal relief programs to these residents would cost about $58 million.

Somerville School Committee considers uncertain budget

Wicked Local Somerville, May 12, 2020

Revenues declined 25% during the March-April period and are projected to be lower in the May-June period as the state closed the fiscal year. Revenues are $2.1 billion lower than what was forecasted, and, per an article from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), that is going to worsen going into fiscal year 2021.

Stimulus checks pitched for undocumented workers

Gloucester Times, May 6, 2020

The left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimates the state's proposal would benefit about 57,000 individuals.

Representative Barber files legislation to support immigrants during COVID-19 pandemic

Somerville Times, May 6, 2020

ITINs (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers) are issued by the IRS for tatt filing purposes to individuals who are ineligible for Social Security Numbers. ITIN filers include undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable groups who pay taxes through alternative means. There are an estimated 57,000 ITIN filers in Massachusetts, yet the CARES excluded ITIN filers and their families from receiving critical stimulus checks.

Letter: COVID-19 makes funding for birth-age 5 child care urgent

Worcester Telegram, May 1, 2020

Child care programs and early educators serving birth-age 5 may become an endangered species following COVID-19. Samantha Aigner-Terworgy, Department of Early Education and Care commissioner, shared that the lost monthly revenue for private pay to child care sites across the state is $248 million. The Care.com proposal for early educators to provide in-home care further threatens programs’ sustainability. Exacerbating the issue, MassBudget forecasts revenue loss for the fall of FY21 to be $5-5.7 billion.

Immigrant stimulus check bills draw support

SouthCoast Today, April 30, 2020

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center pegged the cost of providing cash benefits to ITIN filers, in an amount equal to the federal stimulus they’d receive if eligible, at $58 million. An estimated 57,000 Massachusetts residents live in households with an ITIN filer, according to the center.

The Sobering Truth behind COVID-19's Impact on Massachusetts' Annual Budget

JD Supra, April 27, 2020

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (“MTF”) estimates FY21 tax revenue to fall $4.4 billion below the modest benchmark established in early calendar year 2020, while the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center projects a more dramatic $5 to $5.7 billion range for potential drop in collections. These staggering figures will continue to be impacted by rising unemployment due to business and school closures across the state.

State Rundown 4/22: Earth Day Lessons from Pangea to Pandemic

Just Taxes Blog, April 22, 2020

Massachusetts lawmakers continue to weigh emergency measures. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center released a brief that provides options to support individuals and families in the Commonwealth where federal cash assistance falls short.

Ground Shifting Beneath Senate Revenue Group

The Daily News of Newburyport, April 17, 2020

The virtual meeting began Thursday with presentations from Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera and Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny, each of whom detailed the forecasts they provided earlier this week at a hearing designed to help state budget managers chart a path through the end of fiscal 2020 and into the uncertainties of fiscal year 2021. Rivera said she thinks eliminating the reintroduction of that deduction is “the lowest-hanging fruit” and that because the deduction does not already exist, she does not think people will be any less inclined to make charitable donations.

Ground Shifting Beneath Senate Revenue Group

State House News Service, April 16, 2020

The virtual meeting began Thursday with presentations from Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera and Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny, each of whom detailed the forecasts they provided earlier this week at a hearing designed to help state budget managers chart a path through the end of fiscal year 2020 and into the uncertainties of fiscal year 2021. Rivera said she thinks eliminating the reintroduction of that deduction is "the lowest-hanging fruit" and that because the deduction does not already exist, she does not think people will be any less inclined to make charitable donations.

Mount Greylock Subcommittee Discusses Bus Contract Adjustment During Prolonged Closure

iBerkshires, April 15, 2020

"The required local contribution is basically a measure of how much local tax revenue a city or town can reasonably raise and dedicate to the operation of its schools," according to the website of the non-profit Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. It is related to the foundation budget, which "is designed to represent the total cost of providing an adequate education for all students."

“Sobering” Estimates Mean Budgeting With Billions Less

WGBH, April 14, 2020

Despite the forecasts, or perhaps because of them, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera told lawmakers and the administration it was "not the time to switch to austerity mode." She urged them to close tax loopholes, use the state's $3.5 billion "rainy day" fund and tap federal aid to preserve spending on critical human services.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Warn Of Possible Depression

Patch.com, April 14, 2020

Marie-Frances Rivera, president of MassBudget, said her think tank is estimating state tax collections could fall $5.0 billion to $5.7 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The analysis is based on the two prior recessions, in which state tax collections were 16.1 percent and 13.8 percent below projections. "These are large numbers. And while I stress again that we are not saying this pattern necessarily will occur again now, we are noting that such declines are by no means out of the question," Rivera said in prepared testimony. "Such sharp and persistent declines in tax collections have occurred in each of the last two recessions and very well could again." Rivera also noted estimates that nearly 500,000 Massachusetts workers will be laid off or furloughed by July. That equates to a 14 percent drop in employment in just five months. By comparison, during the worst five-month stretch of the Great Recession, employment declined by 78,000, or 2.4 percent. "This is not a drill. This is a stormy time," Rivera said. "We are in an unprecedented moment – a public health crisis that has catapulted us into an economic crisis."

Coronavirus leaves economists uncertain: 8 takes on COVID-19′s final toll on Massachusetts

MassLive, April 14, 2020

The state will need to tap into its rainy day fund and should also reconsider some tax breaks and work to ensure it receives as much federal relief money as possible, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera said. The economic ramifications of the pandemic have left many people out of work and struggling to afford housing and other basic needs, Rivera said. She said the state must make sure it continues to fund key services and that systems people rely on -- like transit, education and unemployment insurance -- remain operational. “Now is not the time to switch into austerity mode, so we have to utilize all the tools that we have in our toolbox,” Rivera said. If patterns from past recessions hold, Rivera said, fiscal 2020 tax collections would fall somewhere between $4.2 billion and $4.9 billion below fiscal 2019 collections, and, with limited growth, collections in fiscal 2021 could land between $5 billion and $5.7 billion shy of the estimates budget writers agreed to in January. Rivera said state officials should identify ways to limit near-term tax losses "so we can invest in people now and into the future." MassBudget's written testimony said the "best, first option" for doing so would be "to delay, down-size or eliminate several of the largest and most wasteful tax breaks and tax loopholes in our state tax code." Specific tax policies Rivera flagged for reconsideration included the film tax credit, the "single sales factor tax break," and a not-yet-implemented new state charitable deduction. She thanked budget writers for building up the state's rainy day fund in recent years. "Our recommendation would be -- it's pouring," Rivera said. "We need to use it to make sure we have vital services covered. These dollars must be accessed."

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: ‘New ways’ needed for state budget process

MetroWest Daily News, April 11, 2020

The tea leaves, when they can read them, will likely present a bleak picture - the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s testimony contemplates a scenario where fiscal 2021 tax collections land $5 billion short of estimates agreed to in January.

Technology woes derail state house roundtable on budget impact of coronavirus

Boston Herald, April 7, 2020

The public projections so far are bleak. Annual revenue shortfalls could stretch to $5 billion or $6 billion, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated.

Massachusetts coronavirus relief fund launches with over $13 million

Boston Herald, April 6, 2020

A record-setting 330,000 people in Massachusetts filed for unemployment during the final two weeks of March as the coronavirus pandemic escalated, according to federal statistics, signaling that many businesses have boarded up. The tax revenue hit is likely to fall somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion dollars, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and the governor said the ripple effects would play out in state budgets over at least the next two years.

How Workers and Businesses Can Find Relief

Provincetown Independent, April 2, 2020

“You have to self-certify that you are cut off from work because of the virus,” said Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at the Mass. Budget and Policy Center. “It could be that you have to care for someone. It could be that you have to care for a child who would be in school.” He noted that the program is retroactive to Jan. 27. Work-search requirements are also being adjusted. Staying in contact with your employer and being available to come back to work when the emergency passes will in many cases be enough. Your legal status can determine whether you’ll be left out in the cold. “Green-card holders can also receive unemployment benefits,” said Baxandall. “Theoretically, people with legal work authorizations such as an H1-B would be eligible, too. But people who don’t have any formal work status are not eligible for any of these programs.”

The $2 Trillion Federal Stimulus Plan Will Help Massachusetts, But Lawmakers Say It's Only A Start.

WBUR, March 27, 2020

"It's a good starting point to help the American people right now, and to help the people of Massachusetts," said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Rivera and her analysts are still figuring out how much of the $2 trillion will come to Massachusetts — but it will be in the billions of dollars. It's a huge amount of federal spending, but Rivera says it leaves some people behind, including undocumented immigrants, many of whom are now out of work. In addition, Rivera says the federal plan directs $3.5 billion to shore up the cost of child care across the nation — but she worries that Massachusetts' share won't be enough. "The child care system in Massachusetts is already fragile, and we're going to need support to make sure it's shored up and that kids are supported when we all step out of this quarantine," she said. While the spending plan offers cash payments and extends jobless benefits, Rivera says it will only begin to address a huge unemployment challenge in the state. She estimates that about 16% of Massachusetts residents have already lost their jobs.

Congress Urged to Act as Pandemic Losses Threaten Transit Agencies

Streetsblog Mass, March 20, 2020

Phineas Baxandall, a Senior Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and occasional StreetsblogMASS contributor, notes that with ridership and traffic congestion down, “urgency for transportation spending is absent right now.” But he warns that demand for transit services are likely to surge as soon as the pandemic and its required “social distancing” begin to ebb. “If economists are correct that this is the beginning of a potentially deep recession, it will be important to make sure that transit agencies weather this – to make sure that people are able to travel to find new jobs. Infrastructure can be a stimulus to restart the economy,” says Baxandall.

Call on Congress to Support Public Transit Before Bailing Out Private Industries

StreetsBlogs CAL, March 20, 2020

MilNeil spoke to Phineas Baxandall, a Senior Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and occasional StreetsblogMASS contributor. With ridership down and traffic congestion nonexistent, he says, “urgency for transportation spending is absent right now.” But he warns that demand for transit services are likely to surge as soon as the pandemic and its required “social distancing” begin to ebb. “If economists are correct that this is the beginning of a potentially deep recession, it will be important to make sure that transit agencies weather this – to make sure that people are able to travel to find new jobs. Infrastructure can be a stimulus to restart the economy,” says Baxandall.

Virus Crisis Could Lead To Use Of State's Savings

WGBH, March 18, 2020

"This is a rainy day, so we need to have further policy debates about whether it makes sense to pull in the 'rainy day' at this point. And if so, where do we make the investments?" said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of fiscal group MassBudget. Rivera says that first and foremost, the state needs to use the rainy day fund to shore up that strained unemployment system. "People are going to be out of work and they're already starting to be out of work and be laid off, etc.," Rivera said. "So really, we see direct income supports for workers as being very important, especially low wage workers."

Coronavirus could cause Mass. lawmakers to rethink the state budget`

Boston Globe, March 11, 2020

Budget observers see the potential for a cavalcade of expenses if the economy worsens, and the impacts from the virus widen. Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center think tank, said lawmakers should, for example, be ready to help safety-net hospitals — those that have a large number of low-income patients — or displaced workers in sudden need of unemployment payments.

Education aid phase-in emerging as flashpoint

Taunton Daily Gazette, March 11, 2020

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center reported last month that increasing low-income rate to the same one-seventh level would cost another $74 million next fiscal year.

A Big Tax Break for the Trucking Industry Hides in the House Transportation Bill

Streetsblog Mass, March 4, 2020

Phineas Baxandall, an analyst for the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center who tipped off StreetsblogMASS about the tax break over the weekend, says that it could cost the Commonwealth $9 to $11 million in lost revenue. “If the goal of the bill is to add funding for transportation, it’s not clear why this revenue reduction was included,” wrote Baxandall in an email message. “This is enough revenue to enable several regional transportation authorities to be fare-free, to make substantial road repairs, or other important functions that should not get shortchanged without strong reasons. It’s not clear what pressing public good is advanced by this.”

State transportation funding proposal unveiled

The Daily News of Newburyport, February 28, 2020

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank, wants lawmakers to raise taxes on corporations and top earners to pay for transportation upgrades. "Regressive taxes, like the gas tax, fall heaviest on low-income families," Marie-France Rivera, the group’s president, said in a statement. "In a state with one of the highest levels of income inequality in the nation, it's critical that these new investments are made by people and corporations who can most afford it."

For some on the South Shore, higher pay means less money

The Patriot Ledger, February 21, 2020

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimates that the wage hike affects 420,600 workers, including many who are employed in the food service and retail sectors.

Report faults Baker’s approach to low-income student aid

Worcester Telegram, February 19, 2020

In a new report, a Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center analyst wrote that the governor’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal (H 2) falls tens of millions of dollars short on low-income support in the first implementation year of the seven-year funding reform law. While the annual spending bill delivers sufficient funding for most areas of need identified in the law, the organization wrote, it increases low-income student aid at a lower rate than other spending areas targeted in the so-called Student Opportunity Act. “The goal of the Student Opportunity Act is to update our state funding for public schools so every child can get an excellent education, regardless of their background,” MassBudget senior policy analyst and report author Colin Jones said in a statement. “Slower progress on any part of this new law means state lawmakers will have to play catch-up later. Meanwhile, schools would not be able to consistently phase in enhancements to their programs on schedule.”

Baker budget doesn't keep state's commitment to poor students, critics say

Boston Globe, February 18, 2020

An analysis of Baker’s plan by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center released Tuesday found that districts would receive $74 million less than expected for low-income students, a reduction that would be felt most keenly by so-called "gateway” cities serving large numbers of poor students.

Immigrant driver’s license bill moves forward

Commonwealth Magazine, February 5, 2020

The Work and Family Mobility Act, dubbed the “Driver’s License Bill,” would give an estimated 165,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts a form of government-issued identification, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. It removes language from current law that says people who are not authorized to be in the country cannot get licenses.

As lawmakers decide fate of driver’s license bill, activists stage hunger strike at Massachusetts State House

MassLive, February 4, 2020

Bills authorizing immigrants, regardless of legal status, to obtain driver’s licenses has failed to pass multiple sessions. Sen. Brendan Crighton and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier re-filed the legislation in early 2019. Bills H.3012 and S.2061 propose expanding access to standard licenses to immigrants without legal status. An estimated 185,000 undocumented immigrants stand to benefit from this bill if it becomes law, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

As expected, new ed funding helps Gateway Cities

Commonwealth Magazine, January 24, 2020

Colin Jones, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a liberal-leaning think tank, said Gateway Cities generally receive a large portion of state education aid because local taxpayers do not have the ability to pay a lot for education. They are also the communities with large numbers of English-language learners and poor students – populations that are better funded under the new formula. He said the new funding to Gateway Cities has been needed for a long time. “This is starting to reverse cuts, starting to add more teachers, reduce class sizes,” Jones said.

As expected, new ed funding helps Gateway Cities

Commonwealth Magazine, January 24, 2020

Colin Jones, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a liberal-leaning think tank, said Gateway Cities generally receive a large portion of state education aid because local taxpayers do not have the ability to pay a lot for education. They are also the communities with large numbers of English-language learners and poor students – populations that are better funded under the new formula. He said the new funding to Gateway Cities has been needed for a long time. “This is starting to reverse cuts, starting to add more teachers, reduce class sizes,” Jones said.

Baker budget boosts local aid, education funding

The Eagle-Tribune, January 23, 2020

Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the nonpartisan Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, praised Baker’s proposals to boost education and transportation funding but suggested the budget lacks new revenue sources to pay for the initiatives. "The key to sustaining these promises is new, progressive revenue," she said in a statement. "As revenue growth continues to slow, it's hard to tell how the governor's proposed investments will be sustained over the long-term.

Ride-sharing companies criticize governor’s proposed fee increase, say passengers would pay more

MassLive, January 22, 2020

Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, raising TNC assessments isn’t unreasonable, but also isn’t the only means to generate revenue. “There are other ways that we can raise revenue that wouldn’t impact low-, moderate- income people as much,” she said.

Budget gap pegged at $900 million in new report

SouthCoast Today, January 15, 2020

Separately, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, in what it called a “rough estimate,” wrote this week that the Baker administration expects $303 million per year in increased Chapter 70 aid from fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2027.

Will the Transportation Budget Reflect New Realities? 6 Things to Look Out For

StreetsBlog Mass, January 13, 2020

MassBudget is a nonprofit think tank that conducts research and analysis on economic and budget policy in Massachusetts, with a particular focus on improving the lives of moderate- and low-income residents. This guest post is part of a MassBudget series looking ahead at some major stories to watch for in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget debate. StreetsblogMASS will share additional briefs and analysis from MassBudget as new budget proposals are released by the Governor and legislative bodies.

Big Mass. employers join together to push for corporate tax switch

Boston Globe, January 8, 2020

The left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center previously estimated that the breaks for mutual-fund companies and manufacturers cost the state $224 million in fiscal 2018 alone. Kurt Wise, a tax policy analyst at the Boston-based think tank, said the shift to single sales has been proven, in state after state, to be a money-loser. Wise doesn’t buy the argument it will stoke economic development. Taken together, he said, the mutual fund and manufacturing industries have shed tens of thousands of jobs in Massachusetts during the 20-plus years they’ve benefited from the tax break.

State Tax Structure Impeding Job Growth, Biz Execs Warn

State House News Service, January 7, 2020

In a report published in September, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center criticized the state's limited single-sales factor as a tax break that cost the state close to $400 million in fiscal 2020 without saving manufacturing jobs. "The single sales factor is an expensive tax break that has performed poorly," Marie-France Rivera, president of MassBudget, said in a statement. "Every dollar lost to the single sales factor is a dollar that can't be invested in transportation or education or that must be replaced by other taxes."

The wild idea of making MBTA buses free is gaining traction

Boston Globe, January 6, 2020

“A lot of the policies on the table, like fees to disincentivize driving, have environmental benefits, but hit low-income and moderate-income people the hardest,” said Phineas Baxandall, an analyst with the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Free fares advance both equity and the environment.”

https://www.leominsterchamp.com/news/20191224/income-capital-gains-tax-dropping-to-5-percent-in-2020

Leominster Champion, December 24, 2019

Not everyone is celebrating. “The income tax is one of the few revenue sources that asks high-income people to pay in-line with their larger bank rolls,” said Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Repeated cuts to the income tax rate are a big reason that Massachusetts’ tax system is upside-down. Those with higher incomes end up paying a smaller share of their income, on average, than moderate- and low-income taxpayers pay.”

Income tax and long-term capital gains tax reduced

The Somerville Times, December 19, 2019

Not everyone is celebrating. “The income tax is one of the few revenue sources that asks high-income people to pay in-line with their larger bank rolls,” said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Repeated cuts to the income tax rate are a big reason that Massachusetts’ tax system is upside-down. Those with higher incomes end up paying a smaller share of their income, on average, than moderate- and low-income taxpayers pay.”

Income tax rate returning to 1985 level

Commonwealth Magazine, December 13, 2019

“About half of that value [charitable deductions] goes to top 1 percent of income earners. These tax changes end up being regressive,” said Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at the liberal leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “We just think there’s got to be adequate revenue so low and moderate income people shouldn’t be asked to pay more than their fair share.”

A Look At The Tax Measure Dividing House, Senate Dems On State Budget

WBUR, December 11, 2019

The two think tanks framed action taken by other states differently in their descriptions of Section 163(j) legislation around the country. While MTF said "several other states have already taken action to address this issue," MassBudget wrote that "decoupling from Section 163(j) is not especially common among the states." But both organizations agreed that eight states — Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin — have decoupled from Section 163(j). "If Massachusetts decouples, it will be an outlier," MassBudget said.

What’s behind the legislative budget stalemate

Commonwealth Magazine, December 10, 2019

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a more left-leaning think tank, seemed to prefer the Senate’s approach. The center says Massachusetts businesses received an estimated $4 billion in tax relief from a federal tax cut and don’t need the additional savings that decoupling would provide. “The Commonwealth should not be seeking additional ways to reduce state-level income taxes on profitable multi-state and multi-national corporations operating in Massachusetts. This approach provides an unwarranted tax advantage to a subset of businesses: those with multi-state and/or multi-national subsidiaries and sophisticated accounting departments,” the organization said in a position paper released Monday. “Providing such corporate tax cuts also deprives the Commonwealth of much-needed revenue for investments in education, transportation and more — all of which allow both businesses and communities throughout the state to thrive.”

Baystate Business: Remembering Peter Frates

Bloomberg Baystate Business Radio, December 10, 2019

Mass Budget and Policy Center President Marie Frances-Rivera and Senior Policy Analyst Kurt Wise on their recent study on corporate taxes in Massachusetts. (~ 24:20 minutes into the segment)

Analysis: Business tax hike would address inequity

SouthCoast Today, December 3, 2019

Corporate excise taxes in the 1980s accounted for about 16 percent of the state’s total tax haul each year, according to MassBudget. The corporate share of the state’s annual tax take, however, has declined to an average of 10.6 percent over the past decade. The decline, the center said, corresponds with an increase in corporate profits as a share of U.S. income from 9.1 percent to 13 percent. “At a time when profits are soaring, taxes on those profits should not be delivering a smaller slice of our total tax pie. Kids, commuters and communities across the state need profitable corporations doing business here in Massachusetts to step up and do more, not less,” said MassBudget President Marie-Frances Rivera. The report’s author, senior policy analyst Kurt Wise, said there is “no one reason” why the corporate share of tax collections has declined while profits have grown, but the dip did occur after the Legislature in 2008 approved a phased-in reduction in the corporate tax rate from 9.5 percent to 8 percent. The center also blamed “increasingly aggressive” tax avoidance strategies and corporate tax breaks adopted by the Legislature, sometimes as a way to encourage job creation. Wise also acknowledged that the state has increased sales and tobacco tax rates and began taxing goods and services that weren’t taxed in the 1980s, including casinos, marijuana, short-term rentals and ride-hailing services like Uber. Those new sources of revenue could, to varying degrees, naturally shrink the business community’s share of the total tax burden.

Easier than you think: Finding fair revenue that hides in plain sight

Bay State Banner, November 21, 2019

As one of the highest-income states in the country, people might think Massachusetts leads the nation in bold initiatives like universal childcare, debt-free college, and electrified high-speed rail across the state. Instead, year after year, we defer these dreams. Read our president's latest on how the Commonwealth can find the revenue we need to sustain economic mobility for all.

In-Home Care Provider Nizhoni Looking to Scale ‘Distinct’ Behavioral Health Model

Home Health Care News, November 20, 2019

Lading source for news and information covering the home health industry cites research on the cost of MassHealth from our "What is the Actual Cost of MassHealth in 2019?" report.

Transit Revenue Package ‘Hard to Build’ Without Gas Tax Hike

Banker & Tradesman, November 12, 2019

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated in October that the state could raise about $32 million in additional revenue for every cent added to the gas tax, warning at the same time that raising the gas tax would disproportionately impact low- and moderate-income households.

Our View: Another tax at the pump?

The Eagle Tribune, October 30, 2019

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center reports the tax hit on Bay State drivers is now about a dime cheaper than the average paid by drivers on state and local taxes in most parts of the country, according to State House News Service. That’s surprising and a benefit likely wiped away by the extra cost of delivering gas from refineries to New England. Still, given this state’s tendencies, it’s sure to be fodder for those who argue for a tax hike. One advocacy group suggests Massachusetts motorists could take on as much as 25 cents per gallon more.

House leaders talk transpo taxes

Commonwealth Magazine, October 28, 2019

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center earlier this month published a paper in which they estimated that the state could raise about $32 million in additional revenue for every cent added to the state’s 24-cent gas tax. That estimate was based on the $769.1 million generated by the gas tax in fiscal 2018. The national average in state and local taxes and fees paid by drivers at the pump is about 10 cents higher than the gas tax in Massachusetts, according to MassBudget. Transportation for Massachusetts, an advocacy group which has been advocating for new investments, has come out in favor of a 25-cent gas tax hike. MassBudget, however, has warned that increasing the gas tax will disproportionately impact low- and moderate-income households, and may be undercut by the state’s long-term goal of reducing its carbon footprint. The organization has recommended coupling any gas tax hike with an increase in the earned income tax credit.

Our Opinion: Corporate tax break needs better argument

The Berkshire Eagle, October 26, 2019

Massachusetts business groups will need a better argument than the one presented by Rep. Cusack if they are to get their change to the 2017 law passed. They will also have to address the report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center claiming that the state would lose $37 million a year in revenue if this change is passed. While this is less than 0.1 percent of the state budget, the flawed process here is as significant if not more than the revenue figure.

Mass Education Funding Forum Comes To Sudbury

Patch.com, October 25, 2019

The League of Women Voters of Sudbury and First Parish of Sudbury Unitarian Universalist are co-sponsoring a public forum "State Education Funding: Does It Make the Grade?". Speakers include Anastasia Martinez, policy analyst with the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, an independent research and analysis organization, will outline the changes in education funding proposed in the pending legislation, the Student Opportunity Act, and the impact those changes will have on school districts.

A caution on hiking ‘regressive’ gas tax

Commonwealth Magazine, October 17, 2019

Gas taxes are a “regressive” approach to generating revenue that “tend to hit those with low and moderate incomes the hardest,” according to the report issued by the liberal-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. The effect is particularly acute in rural areas, where people must drive longer distances for everything from work to grocery shopping, and there are often not viable public transportation alternatives.“There are more fiscally sustainable and progressive ways to generate revenue for transportation, such as through targeted changes to corporate or personal income taxes,” says the report, authored by Phineas Baxandall. That said, the report points to one way a gas tax could be made fairer. Coupling an increase in the gas tax with an expansion in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income residents could offset the impact of the tax on those households. The last time the federal gas tax was increased — in 1993 — it was paired with changes in the federal tax credit to cushion the impact on lower-income households.

Report: Higher Gas Tax, Like Higher Transit Fares, Could Increase Inequality

StreetsBlog Mass, October 17, 2019

While many sustainable transportation advocates champion higher gasoline taxes as a way to pay for transportation improvements, a new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) warns that higher gasoline taxes will exacerbate the state’s growing income inequality – unless the state simultaneously passes other tax policies to benefit low-income families. A 10-cent tax increase would cost, on average, 0.20 percent of income for the lowest-income households, and less than 0.001 percent of earnings for households from the highest 1 percent of incomes, according to MassBudget. “There are real tradeoffs with the gas tax and it’s something that there needs to be a real adult conversation about,” said the report’s author, Phineas Baxandall of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “If we’re looking to regressive forms of taxes (to fund transportation improvements), then we need to couple that with other kinds of more progressive tax policies, instead of making Massachusetts less equitable.” Many environmentalists like the idea of a gasoline tax because a higher price on fossil fuels can, over time, influence consumers to drive less. But MassBudget’s report warns that “consumers can be less responsive to prices of gasoline than for many other goods because there are often few viable alternatives to car travel.”

Quincy lawmaker faces backlash over ethnic identification bill

The Patriot Ledger, October 17, 2019

At a packed hearing on the bill Tuesday, critics of the legislation blasted it as a form of racial profiling and accused its backers of playing into the hands of white supremacists. Other speakers, including the heads of several organizations serving minority populations, said the data sought by the bill would help them better understand and serve the needs of individual ethnic groups. “Making good policy is about knowing the community and figuring out what their needs are,” said Colin Jones, who works the for Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Broad categories may be missing key stories.”

House Dems dump Baker’s ‘working families’ tax relief

Fall River Herald News, October 15, 2019

Kurt Wise, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, questioned the use of one-time surplus tax revenues to drive permanent tax policy changes and suggested adjustments to the earned income tax credit would be a more targeted way to help lower income taxpayers. The business tax break, Wise said, would only add to about $140 billion in tax cuts for corporations included in the federal tax law rewrite favored by President Trump and Republicans in Congress. While a $37 million break in a $42 billion state budget is “not an absolutely huge giveaway,” Wise said policymakers should be looking at the state and local tax structure for ways to ensure people in different income groups are paying the same effective tax rates. “This moves us in the opposite direction,” he said.

Beacon Hill Roll Call, October 11, 2019

The Enterprise, October 11, 2019

“In Massachusetts, living in high-poverty neighborhoods affects six percent of all children, and these neighborhoods are mostly in the Gateway Cities and the City of Boston. Growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods has long-term impacts on our kids. All children and families deserve quality education, housing and access to opportunity. Investing in solutions that uplift children in poverty will create the change needed for everyone in the commonwealth to thrive." —Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, on a report that 90,000 kids in Massachusetts live in concentrated poverty.

What Are The Effects Of Childhood Poverty?

WGBH, October 5, 2019

New numbers out this week from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center show that 90,000 Massachusetts children are living in areas of concentrated poverty, for the most part in Boston and in gateway cities like Lawrence and Lynn. Professor Jonathan Zaff is the director of the CERES Institute for Children and Youth at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education. He spoke with WGBH News’ Arun Rath about the effects of growing up poor. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Senate approves big boost in school aid

Commonwealth Magazine, October 3, 2019

Baker filed a funding bill in January that would have increased state aid to districts by $460 million, according to an estimate by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. The nearly $1 billion gap between his bill and the measure passed by the Senate underscores the tensions that are emerging between the administration the Legislature over the sweeping legislation.

90,000 Mass. kids living in ‘concentrated poverty,’ researchers say

WCVB, October 1, 2019

About 90,000 children in Massachusetts are growing up in neighborhoods where 30 percent of more of the population is living in poverty, according to local researchers who drew their conclusions from recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said Tuesday that the neighborhoods featuring "concentrated poverty" are mostly in "gateway cities" and in Boston.Center officials describe growing up in a high-poverty area as "one of the greatest risks to child development" and said the latest data shows more than 8.5 million U.S. children live in such settings. To address the situation, MassBudget called for tax system changes, equitable education funding, investments in public transportation, and ensuring equitable opportunities for people regardless of their immigration status. "Growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods has long-term impacts on our kids," MassBudget President Marie-Frances Rivera said in a statement. "All children and families deserve quality education, housing and access to opportunity. Investing in solutions that uplift children in poverty will create the change needed for everyone in the Commonwealth to thrive."

Tens of thousands of Mass. children still live in areas of concentrated poverty, report says

Boston Globe, October 1, 2019

“Growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods has long-term impacts on our kids,” said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Boston, in a statement. “All children and families deserve quality education, housing and access to opportunity. Investing in solutions that uplift children in poverty will create the change needed for everyone in the Commonwealth to thrive,” Rivera said. The data snapshot was released by KIDS COUNT, a project of the foundation intended to track the status of children in the United States and provide data on children’s well-being to enrich policy discussions. MassBudget is the foundation’s KIDS COUNT partner for Massachusetts.

On education bill, funding and taxes loom large

Commonwealth Magazine, September 26, 2019

Colin Jones of the liberal-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center applauded the bill, calling it “a very significant move forward,” but added that the idea that there will be no need for new revenue over seven years to pay for it is “a lot to assume.” While Worcester, for example, would have been required to increase its local education spending by $3 million under the Promise Act, it would have received $74 million in addition state aid, according to the Mass. Budget and Policy Center. While details of how the bill now before the Legislature would affect individual districts have not been released, it would also mean an enormous increase in state aid to Gateway Cities in exchange for a small hike in local spending. “They’ll make that trade easily,” said Jones, the Mass. Budget and Policy Center analyst. “They’re lining up for that.”

Enforcement Climate Causing Immigrants to Forego Care

State House News Service, September 18, 2019

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated this month that there are about 185,000 undocumented immigrants currently residing in the state.

Our Opinion: Modest tax reforms would have benefits

The Berkshire Eagle, September 12, 2019

According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), an independent group that researches and analyzes the state's finances, Massachusetts' business tax levels rank in the bottom fifth of all 50 states. "Massachusetts currently has a favorable business tax environment, despite regular claims to the contrary," writes MassBudget President Marie-Frances Rivera in the report. She adds that two specific business tax provisions "appear outdated, ineffective, and unnecessarily costly to the Commonwealth." The first provision, called the "single sales factor," is tailored to multi-state corporations in the theory that it would increase manufacturing employment in the state. Instituted in 2000, MassBudget notes that the state lost 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2014 and there has been no resurgence since. The tax break has not come close to doing what it was intended to do, and according to MassBudget, will cause the state to lose $400 million in revenue in Fiscal Year 2020. A tax break this ineffective and costly cannot be justified.

Rep. Antonio Cabral: Address charter funding in school budget bill

SouthCoast Today, September 12, 2019

Cabral hosted a caucus briefing where Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center analyst Colin Jones laid out the facts of competing school funding proposals and the challenges he sees as inherent in striking a deal.

Licensing bill triggers debate over immigration, driving

Andover Townsman, September 12, 2019

Supporters of the legislation argued at the hearing that it would make the roads safer for everyone and ease the stress on the state's roughly undocumented immigrants — many of whom already drive without a license, training or insurance. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated last week that there are 185,000 undocumented immigrants in the state.

Representative Barber testifies with hundreds of supporters for her Driver’s License Bill

The Somerville Times, September 5, 2019

“Allowing immigrants the right to drive is good for the economy and for your pocket,” said Ben Echevarria, Executive Director of The Welcome Project. “The recent MassBudget study shows this bill would add about $6 million to state revenue and would lower individual’s annual insurance rates by roughly $20. It’s good for our economy and makes our roads safer.” In anticipation of the hearing, Rep. Barber also spoke at a Labor Day Rally in support of the bill, and at a Press Conference to release a report from MassBudget that shows the positive impact this bill would have on our Commonwealth.

Bill To Make Driver’s Licenses Available To Undocumented Immigrants Debated At Massachusetts State House

CBS Boston, September 5, 2019

Supporters of the legislation argued Wednesday that it would make the roads safer for everyone and ease the stress on the state’s undocumented immigrants — many of whom already drive without a license, training or insurance. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated Wednesday that there are 185,000 undocumented immigrants in the state. Allowing undocumented immigrants to acquire driver’s licenses could generate millions of dollars in revenue for both the state and for insurance companies, researchers at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said in a report released hours before Wednesday’s hearing. Undocumented immigrants already contribute about $184.6 million in Massachusetts state and local taxes and having a license could increase many immigrants’ earning power and their tax contributions. MBPC President Marie-Frances Rivera described the legislation as “economically sensible, and simply the right thing to do” at the Wednesday morning press conference. “Licensing drivers without documents not only allows them and their families to access basic necessities, it also allows employers to access more qualified workers in our tight labor market,” Rivera said. Passing the legislation would likely generate $6 million in state revenue over the first three years and lower each Massachusetts driver’s insurance premium by about $20 per year, which Rivera pointed out is enough to buy flowers on Mother’s Day. It would also generate an additional $62 million in revenue for insurance companies, the report found.

Advocates pack State House hearing to support bill to expand driving privileges to all Mass. residents, regardless of legal status

MassLive, September 4, 2019

An estimated 185,000 undocumented immigrants stand to benefit from this bill if it becomes law, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Currently, residents need to show a work permit or other proof of legal status to be eligible for a driver’s license.

Tax cuts that continue to haunt Mass

Boston Globe - Op-Ed, February 12, 2013

Tax policy debates are about how we pay for the things we do together for our communities, our families, and our economy. Working together through government allows us to accomplish things that are vital to us as a Commonwealth and that we can't do alone...About 15 years ago, at the height of the dot-com bubble, our state made tax policy choices that have shaped state policy ever since...The state enacted a series of cuts to the income tax that are now costing us close to $3 billion a year. We cut the tax rate on most income from 5.95 percent to 5.3 percent, costing over $1.5 billion. We cut the tax rate on dividends and interest from 12 percent to 5.3 percent, costing about $850 million. We increased the personal deduction to $4,400, costing $550 million.

Look at what the state is doing right

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, January 23, 2011

WITH THE governor scheduled to file his budget proposal for the coming year on Wednesday, and the Commonwealth facing a budget gap of close to $2 billion, knowing that our government provides services as efficiently as possible will be more important than ever.