MTF In The News

Transit officials say repeal could cost $1b over decade

Nov 6 2017

By Nicole Dungca, The Boston Globe

Michael J. Widmer, president of the Taxpayers Foundation, who helped campaign against the repeal, said the vote could have serious long-term consequences for transportation funding that was given a boost last year.
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Gov. Deval Patrick planning to make cuts to address $325 million budget shortfall

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Nov 6 2014

By Matt Murphy, MassLive / State House News Service

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer said he wasn't surprised by the shortfall. "Our calculation is that it's at least $500 million, so I think this is clearly a positive step to try to achieve a balance budget and it's important to do it earlier rather than later and leave it to an incoming governor from a calendar standpoint," he said.
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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick about to leave center of Bay State's political spotlight

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Nov 4 2014

By Andy Metzger, MassLive / State House News Service

"All of the focus switches to the incoming governor, and everybody trying to position him or herself," said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer, who witnessed the process firsthand in the Sargent administration and the first Dukakis administration. He said, "Almost everybody wants something."
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2 Perspectives On Question 1: Eliminating Massachusetts Gas Tax Indexing

Oct 28 2014

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Radio Boston

Michael Widmer: “This is a traditional form of taxation, namely adjusting it to inflation…When you get a cost of living increase, you pay more in income tax… This happens to be tied to cents rather than percents, but the distinction is meaningless. This is a very common form of taxation.
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Martha Coakley's comments on graduated income tax criticized by taxpayer watchdogs

Oct 24 2014

By Garrett Quinn, Masslive

"Amending the state’s constitution and adding to the tax burden of middle and higher income taxpayers, including businesses that pay personal income taxes, would pose one more disincentive to job creation in the state," said Widmer while testifying before the commission.
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Sorry state of Mass. roads costs drivers $8.3B a year

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Oct 22 2014

By Andy Metzger, State House News Service / The Enterprise

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer and AAA Southern New England Director of Public and Legislative Affairs Mary Maguire, who are both vocal opponents of Question 1, spoke at TRIP’s press conference held in a Beacon Hill office building.
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Business groups defend gas-tax indexing with big money to defeat Question 1

Oct 20 2014

By George Donnelly, Boston Business Journal

In the latest filing on the Massachusetts Office of Political and Campaign Finance, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and A Better City, all business membership groups, contributed to defeat the ballot question.
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Question 1 opponents: Indexing gas tax is crucial

Oct 16 2014

By Brian Benson, The Weston Town Crier

But Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and an opponent of Question 1, said indexing the gas tax is similar to how some other taxes change. As the cost of goods rise, for example, people pay more dollars in sales tax.
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Ballot Question 1: Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing

Oct 9 2014

By Lana Jones, WBZ Radio

But Michael Widmer, head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said that is not accurate. “This is very common to have an adjustment to reflect increases in cost of living, both for taxes and for benefit,” Widmer said.
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Editorial: The retiree dilemma

Sep 27 2014

The Boston Herald

Among those items of unfinished business the Patrick administration - and this sitting of the Legislature - leave behind is any attempt to reform the health care benefits paid to retired municipal workers that are bankrupting the state’s poorest communities.A new report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation documents in distressing detail the scope of the problem.
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Report: Retiree health costs equal nearly 20 percent of tax bills for single-family homeowners in Springfield, Holyoke

Sep 24 2014

By Jack Flynn, The Republican

Expanding health care costs for retired municipal workers equal nearly 20 percent of the property tax paid by the average single-family homeowner in Springfield and Holyoke, an analysis by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has found.
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Question 1 foes: Gas-tax indexing repeal dooms roads

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Sep 24 2014

By Kyle Clauss, The Lowell Sun

Michael Widmer, president of the nonpartisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the federal government is pushing for more responsibility for roads and bridges on the state level. A higher gas tax, Widmer said, would provide the state with revenue for transportation without a considerable burden on motorists -- between $5-$10 annually.
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Retiree health costs straining budgets in poorer cities

Sep 22 2014

By Andy Metzger, State House New Service / WWLP

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation analyzed the impact of growing retiree health costs on nine of the 10 cities with the lowest per capita incomes. In North Adams, for example, retiree health care amounts to 22 percent of the city’s property tax levy, or $445 on the average annual tax bill in North Adams.

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Income inequality impacting state tax revenues

Sep 15 2014

By Tiffany Chan, WWLP

The President of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation argues that it would only target the upper-class. “I think the proponents, many of them of the graduated income tax really want to be able to raise taxes on the higher income people without having to raise taxes on everybody,” said President Michael Widmer.
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New study suggests overhauling state personal income tax could help with revenue

Sep 15 2014

By Philip Marcelo, AP / The Republic

Michael Widmer, a member of the Tax Fairness Commission who opposed the recommendation, says such an overhaul would only compound income inequality by discouraging business investment.
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WEEKLY ROUNDUP - FIRE AWAY

Aug 31 2014

By Andy Metzger, Cape Cod Today / State House news Service

News of the state's ongoing negotiations to secure a five-year federal waiver was less forthcoming. The waiver dates back to 1997, undergirds Massachusetts efforts at providing universal health care and health care cost control, and represents the biggest fiscal risk in the near future, according to Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer.
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Meals tax has generated $357M in state revenue

Aug 31 2014

By Gerry Tuoti and Marc Larocque, Taunton Daily Gazette

Carolyn Ryan, assistant director of policy and research at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said that while local meals tax revenue typically makes up a small percentage of local budgets, it can be important.
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Meals tax brings $650,000 to Norwood

Aug 11 2014

By Gerry Tuoti, Norwood transcript

Carolyn Ryan, assistant director of policy and research at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said that while local meals tax revenue typically makes up a small percentage of local budgets, it can be important.
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Meals tax a boon for towns

Aug 11 2014

By Gerry Tuoti, MetroWest Daily News

Carolyn Ryan, assistant director of policy and research at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said that while local meals tax revenue typically makes up a small percentage of local budgets, it can be useful. "It has been an important factor in recession and recovery when it filled in cuts to state aid," she said.
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Brockton, towns cash in on meals tax

Aug 5 2014

By Ed Donga, The Enterprise

Carolyn Ryan, assistant director of policy and research at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said that while local meals tax revenue typically makes up a small percentage of local budgets, it can still be important. “It has been an important factor in the recession and recovery when it filled in cuts to state aid,” she said.
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Sales tax holiday forces a reality check

Aug 3 2014

By Alli Knothe, Telegram & Gazette

"The impact on the budget is really marginal at best," said Andrew Bagley, director of research and public affairs for the Boston-based Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. He said it is difficult to argue against something viewed favorably by both businesses and consumers.

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Voters would pay for road fixes — close to home

Jul 24 2014

By Martine Powers, The Boston Globe

Andrew C. Bagley, director of research and public affairs at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said it’s natural for voters to care most about the roads and bridges they see every day — especially, he added, when they fear that they have become so outdated they are dangerous. “People understand the importance of transportation infrastructure,” Bagley said.
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Convention center director leaves no loose ends

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Jul 14 2014

By Casey Ross, The Boston Globe

When he was reviewing the expansion plans, Michael Widmer, head of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he was less concerned about the city’s role in the world than the project’s benefit to the local economy. Even today, he said, he is unsure of what that return will be. The project seems to be a sensible investment, Widmer said.

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I-Team investigation prompts change in Swansea police policy

Jul 14 2014

By Katie Davis, WJAR

The I-Team took what it found to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "The idea that the same individual would call in sick and then do a police detail, that's a first that I've heard of," the foundation's Michael Widmer said. Widmer said he believes the real problem is New England's police detail system.
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Governor's bid for more budget-cutting clout befuddles observers

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Jul 12 2014

By Matt Stout, The Boston Herald

“There’s virtually no chance the Legislature gives him this authority,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, noting if Patrick were concerned about spending, he could have wielded more vetoes than the modest $16.1 million worth in this year’s $36.5 billion budget, which he signed yesterday.

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Patrick seeks more power to cut budget

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Jul 11 2014

By Michael Levenson, The Boston Globe

Widmer said if the governor is worried that the $36.5 billion annual budget he signed on Friday may need to be trimmed, he should have vetoed more than $16.1 million in spending. “But the combination of minuscule vetoes and asking for emergency powers is peculiar and, I think, unprecedented,” Widmer said. “There doesn’t seem to be any reasonable explanation for this.”
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No money set aside for shift in Medicaid

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Jul 1 2014

By Felice J. Freyer, The Boston Globe

Andrew C. Bagley, director of research and public affairs for the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded policy organization, said the group remains “a bit concerned” about this approach. “It strikes me there is going to be some exposure, and it could be significant,” he said.
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Budget boosts pay for sheriffs, district attorneys

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Jul 1 2014

By Michael Levenson and Frank Phillips, The Boston Globe

Lawmakers were able to boost spending in the $36.5 billion budget after they used rosier revenue projections to find an additional $120 million, said Andrew Bagley, director of research and public affairs at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a private group that tracks state finances. But he pointed out that the state is facing potentially costly fixes to its troubled Health Connector websi
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State’s taxpayer advocate sums up without division

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Jun 14 2014

By Renée Loth, The Boston Globe

For Widmer the win is not just for a town’s bottom line. “I see that as preserving teachers in the classroom and good benefits for public employees,” he said. The money saved could cut taxes, sure, but it could also be plowed back into hiring more police, firefighters, and teachers. “It actually preserves public sector jobs,” he said.
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Say no to Convention Center expansion

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Jun 12 2014

By Derrick Z. Jackson, The Boston Globe

“What’s of concern to me,” Widmer said, “is that there has not been a broader public discussion about the best use of limited dollars.”
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Editorial: Michael Widmer leaves substantial void on Beacon Hill

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Jun 1 2014

The Boston Globe

Last year, his warnings about an ill-conceived “tech tax” on computer services paved the way for a remarkably swift repeal. Widmer’s influence only grew over time, and he earned it in the best possible way: through solid facts, sharp analysis, and a palpable concern for the future of the Commonwealth. He will be sorely missed.
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Convention center expansion wins in House

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May 29 2014

By Donna Goodison and Matt Stout, The Boston Herald

“Even with hotel expansions, we won’t have an adequate number of hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity (of the BCEC), so we’ll still be behind many cities in that respect,” Widmer said. “And some of the projections about future conventions that would come to Boston are un­certain.”
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Sales tax holiday likely to return to Massachusetts for 2014, despite Senate vote

May 28 2014

By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he does not think this year will be any different. "They do it every year. I'd be very surprised if it doesn't come to pass," Widmer said.
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Mass. Taxpayers Foundation President Widmer to retire

May 28 2014

By Michael Norton, State House News Service / Worcester Business Journal Online

Beacon Hill politicians for years have touted Michael Widmer's stamp of approval as proof that their fiscal or policy proposals are meritorious. Now Widmer is poised to exit a stage where he has loomed large since the early 1990s.
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Michael Widmer to retire as Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president

May 28 2014

By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican

Michael Widmer plans to retire at the end of the year, after 25 years leading the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
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Head of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation leaving

May 28 2014

AP / The Boston Herald

The head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has announced plans to retire. Michael Widmer has been president since 1992 of the non-partisan research organization that has been influential in state budget analysis and other major public policy issues.
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Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation's Widmer to step down

May 27 2014

By Eric Convey, Boston Business Journal

Michael Widmer, who has run the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation for 22 years, is stepping down, he told State House News Service in an article published today.
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Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president to retire

May 27 2014

By Chris Reidy, The Boston Globe

Michael J. Widmer, the 75-year-old president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, announced Tuesday that he plans to retire “when the transition to a successor is complete,” something likely to happen by the end of the year.
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Automatic gas tax emerging as key campaign issue in Mass.

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May 26 2014

By Bob Salsberg, AP / Telegram & Gazette

''It's a tiny increase,'' said Michael Widmer, president of the nonpartisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Yet it would generate significant revenue to help the state keep up with road and bridge maintenance, he said.
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Prop 2½ waivers mostly waived off at polls

May 25 2014

By Donna Boynton, Telegram & Gazette

"This is more or less a permanent condition," Mr. Widmer said, noting only modest increases in local aid that compete with rising costs of employee benefits, pensions and health care costs that are burdening communities lead to the need for overrides. "I think this reflects a growing sentiment on the part of taxpayers that they expect their government to manage within the means available.
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Retirement systems don’t add up

May 24 2014

By Barry Koslow, The Boston Herald

Here at home, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation reports that state and local governments in the Bay State have set aside only $63 billion — 43 percent — of the $146 billion needed to meet pension and health obligations for current and future retirees.
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Senate budget boosts funding for DCF

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May 14 2014

By Matt Murphy, State House New Service / Lowell Sun

"It's very close to the House. When you step back and look at these two budgets they're remarkably similar, one of the most similar budgets coming out of the House and Senate in all my time and the bottom line is very close," Widmer said, calling the approach a "reasonable" balance between spending increases and reducing the state's reliance on one-time money and reserves for budget balance.
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State Budget Would Allow Busing Reimbursement

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May 14 2014

By Sarah Birnbaum, WGBH

But classrooms in community colleges and some state universities would lose out, at least compared to UMASS, which would see a $500 million increase. Michael Widmer is with the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: “That’s a concern I think in terms if that can be rectified in the debate on the senate floor and in the conference committee with the house.
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A New Study Says Romneycare Has Saved Thousands Of Lives

May 7 2014

By Brett LoGiurato, AP / Yahoo Finance

According to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the state spends about $91 million more each year on health costs compared to the years before the law was enactment
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Mass. pension plan ranks worst in US, study finds

May 1 2014

By Beth Healy, The Boston Globe

Carolyn Ryan, assistant director of policy and research at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, who reviewed the report, said it makes sense to require a waiting period before people qualify for a pension. “The Urban Institute gives us a demerit for our 10-year investing requirement. We disagree with that,’’ Ryan said.
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Has IT come of age politically?

Apr 26 2014

By Noah Guiney, The Boston Globe

Certainly those concerned about the state’s business climate were glad to see the tech execs speak up about the tax. “It was the most damaging proposal I’ve seen in my career — and I don’t say that lightly,” says Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the group that first flagged the tax in the budget.
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Lancaster selectman: OPEB costs add up to $3.6 million

Apr 24 2014

By Michael Hartwell, Sentinel & Enterprise News

He endorsed a February report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation finding that municipalities in the commonwealth have an aggregate $30 billion in unfunded OPEB liabilities.
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Property taxes on the rise across Massachusetts

Apr 19 2014

By Gerry Tuoti, The Herald News

“I don’t think the bills are increasing at a pace that’s unusual compared to historic increases, but the expectation is communities are going to have fewer resources available and are trying to do more with less,” Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation policy analyst Carolyn Ryan said.
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Central Mass. lawmakers push for local projects in state budget

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Apr 17 2014

By John J. Monahan, Telegram & Gazette

Andrew Bagley, director of research for the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said many amendments for increased spending are likely to be adopted, although the House Ways and Means proposed budget would spend almost all of the 5 percent increase in state revenues expected during fiscal 2015. "The House Ways and Means budget has a little bit of wiggle room.
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House leaders propose $36.2 billion state budget

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Apr 16 2014

By Gerry Tuoti, The Chronicle

"It's a balanced, responsible budget," said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer. "It's a tight budget reflecting a small recovery."
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Dukakis ‘feeling pretty good’ about North South Rail Link

Apr 14 2014

By Michael Norton, State House New Service / Norwood Transcript

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer said the business-backed group has not taken a position on the rail link project, but called it "far too expensive to ever imagine it would be built." "It will be at least 4 or 5 or 6 billion dollars," Widmer said. "We simply don’t have those funds. In theory, would it be desirable? Yes.
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House leaders propose "cautious" $36.2 billion state budget, a 5% increase

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Apr 9 2014

By Gerry Tuoti, The Herald News

“It’s a balanced, responsible budget,” said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer. “It’s a tight budget reflecting a small recovery.”

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Minimum wage bill drawing mixed reviews

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Mar 19 2014

By Matt Murphy, State House New Service / Gloucester Times

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he will be curious to see how the House approaches the taxable wage base for unemployment insurance. “The devil is in the details,” Widmer said. “If the minimum wage is part of real UI reform, it’s a reasonable approach.”
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Ballot activists see shortcomings in House minimum wage bill

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Mar 14 2014

By Matt Murphy, State House New Service / WBJournal

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he will be curious to see how the House approaches the taxable wage base for unemployment insurance. "The devil is in the details," Widmer said. "If the minimum wage is part of real UI reform, it's a reasonable approach."
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RMV fee increase to be approved Wednesday

Mar 12 2014

By Martine Powers, The Boston Globe

Bagley acknowledged that it will be a jarring one-two-three punch for motorists next year, when the gas tax increase of 2013 and the registry fee hike of 2014 will probably be followed by higher tolls.
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Call to audit tax breaks brings howls

Mar 11 2014

By Steven Syre, The Boston Globe

The heads of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation came together to write a letter to the chairmen of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue, warning about the “chilling” implications of the auditor’s plans.
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Massachusetts Lawmakers Examine “Fairness” of State Tax Code

Mar 3 2014

By Zeke Wright, GoLocalWorcester

Michael Widmer, a member of the committee and president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, voted against the graduated income tax measure, saying it would undercut the creation of jobs and be counterproductive toward the goal of a more competitive economy.
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Home values begin to rebound

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Mar 2 2014

By Brenda J. Buote, The Boston Globe

In its 43d annual Municipal Finance Data report, released in January, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation found that spending on pensions, employee and retiree benefits, and debt service grew 23 percent between fiscal years 2007 and 2012, while all other spending grew just 10 percent. “With modest revenue growth at best, funding for schools, public safety, and other services will be sacrificed in order to pay for the unaffordable obligations taken on by cities and towns over the past decades,” Widmer said.
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Tax Fairness Commission recommends graduated income tax

Feb 26 2014

By Colleen Quinn, State House News Service / The Daily News

Before they opted not to take a single vote on the entire report, Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he planned to vote against the final report, largely because of the graduated income tax recommendation.
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Massachusetts Tax Fairness Commission to recommend lowering state income taxes for the poor, increasing them on the wealthy

Feb 26 2014

By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican

“The problem with those proposals is they pose a larger tax on the very individuals who are making decisions about where to build their businesses, whether in Massachusetts or other states,” said Michael Widmer, a committee member and president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “The only solution to the dilemma facing Massachusetts is to create jobs, and this would undercut the creation of jobs and be counterproductive toward the overall goal of a more competitive Massachusetts economy.”
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Editorial: As retiree health costs loom, towns need tougher reforms

Feb 24 2014

The Boston Globe

Many Massachusetts residents know that public pension liabilities pose a serious fiscal threat. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation reminds everyone that the unfunded retiree health care liabilities of cities and towns, which now stands at $30 billion, is more than double the unfunded pension liability.
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Patrick whiffs on anti-privatization law

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Jan 24 2014

By Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe

No one has a hard estimate for how much could be saved by letting private companies compete for the right to deliver more state services, but Sullivan believes that, at a minimum, it would be $100 million a year. Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, thinks that over time, those savings could grow to hundreds of millions annually.
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Patrick seeks 5% spending increase in final budget plan

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Jan 23 2014

By Matt Murphy and Michael Norton, State House News Service / The Daily News

“This is largely a steady as you go, straight-forward, no-frills budget,” said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer, who said the bulk of revenue increases for fiscal 2015 would go toward Medicaid, debt service and pensions.
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Patrick Unveils Budget Plan: A Boost for Education, Taxes for Soda and Candy

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Jan 22 2014

By Sarah Birnbaum, New England Public Radio

Overall, the governor’s budget would increase funding by about 5 percent over last year’s levels. Widmer says most of the increase will go to fixed costs like Medicaid, debt service and pensions. "There’s not a lot of money to play around with…maybe $400 or $500 million of discretionary dollars," he says. "So, not a lot in a $35 to $40 million budget."
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Patrick Unveils Less Ambitious $36.4 Billion Budget

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Jan 22 2014

By Sarah Birnbaum, WGBH

The proposal would not increase local aid for cities and towns. But Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer says legislators are unlikely to go along with that. “It’s an election year," he said. "I think you’ll see a little boost in municipal local aid."
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Governor boosts child welfare agency in proposed budget

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Jan 22 2014

By Matt Stout, The Boston Herald

“It’s largely a maintenance, no-frills, steady-as-you-go budget,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “I think the problem is he didn’t have the revenues to do much else. On the tax increase, I think he made the correct judgment that it wouldn’t have any better chance this year, maybe even less chance in an election year. ...
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15 comments Gov. Deval Patrick's $36.4 billion budget increases education funding, level funds aid to cities and towns

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Jan 22 2014

By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, called it a "straight-forward, steady-as-you-go, no frills budget."
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Patrick reveals FY2015 budget plan

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Jan 20 2014

By Sharman Sacchetti, Fox news

"There would be no real tax increase in the budget, in fact because of the formula that was instituted a decade ago, the income tax is going to go down slightly, from 5.25 to 5.2 percent, so no tax increases in this budget broad based," said Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. On the proposal to revive a sales tax on candy and soda, Widmer said, "The legislature's not likely
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Editorial: Facing reality in Boston

Jan 16 2014

The Providence Journal

A report this month from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-oriented oversight group, underlines the severity of the problem across Massachusetts. Pension costs and health care for current and retired municipal employees continue to squeeze local budgets: Those costs grew 23 percent from 2007 to 2013.

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Major agreements reached before state budget debate

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Jan 15 2014

By Matt Murphy, State House New Service / The Enterprise

Though the recovery has been slower than after past recessions, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer urged budget writers in December to consider pushing up the date to fully fund the pension system as an overture to bond rating agencies, which control the cost of borrowing.
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Clash of the commuter rail titans

Jan 8 2014

By Gabrielle Gurley, CommonWealth Magazine

The MassDOT board will have to carefully consider the parameters that a new rail operator must meet under a longer initial contractual period of eight years versus five years under the current agreement.
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Town and city budgets squeezed

Jan 8 2014

By Jim Hand, The Sun Chronicle

The cost of pensions, health care and debt is squeezing out funding for other municipal services and causing cities and towns to lay off workers, according to a report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. The foundation found that municipal spending on those three budget-busting areas jumped 23 percent from 2007 to 2012, while spending on everything else went up only 10 percent.
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Budget gaps threatening communities

Jan 8 2014

By Thor Jourgensen, The Daily Item

A taxpayer oversight group warned cities and towns face “a long-term budget squeeze” threatening to overtake efforts by municipal budget makers in Lynn, Marblehead and other communities to balance property tax money with careful spending on health care, pensions and debt.
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Cities, towns struggle to keep up with rising health, pension costs

Jan 8 2014

By Lane Lambert, The Patriot Ledger

The business-backed foundation’s 43rd annual municipal financial data report shows that total revenue and spending by the state’s 351 municipalities grew to $23.4 billion in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, while the total workforces have lost almost 15,000 employees since 2007.
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Report says unfunded costs choking budgets in Mass.

Jan 8 2014

By Bob Salsberg, AP / The Boston Globe

Municipalities face nearly $45 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to the report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, an independent, business-backed organization. Meeting those responsibilities could divert resources from schools, public safety, and other services, the group warned.
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Report Blames Pensions,Debts For Squeezing Municipal Budgets

Jan 7 2014

By Paul Tuthill, WAMC

15,000 municipal jobs have been eliminated in Massachusetts since 2007. The state’s cities and towns have cut the total workforce by 6 percent. In a new report released this morning, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation says municipalities are in a financial squeeze because of rising pension costs and increased debt.
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Pensions, health care, debt service croaking cities, towns

Jan 7 2014

By Michael Norton, State House New Service / Nashoba Publishing

"Spending on employee and retiree benefits will consume an ever larger share of municipal budgets for the foreseeable future as municipalities face nearly $45 billion in unfunded liabilities," MTF President Michael Widmer said in a statement released to the News Service.
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Fiscal Troubles Forecast for Massachusetts Cities and Towns

Jan 7 2014

By Susan Kaplan, New England Public Radio

The group's president, Michael Widmer says the unaffordable obligations have already forced layoffs and will cut into spending on public safety and education. Widmer supports legislative mandates to reform retiree health care benefits. "We're not suggesting that those benefits be taken away," Widmer says. "Rather, we're focusing on eligibility for example for future retirees."
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Massachusetts municipal revenues up slightly, but overshadowed by pension and health benefit obligations, study finds

Jan 7 2014

By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican

Municipal revenues are growing, but not by enough to offset growth in cities and towns' obligations for pensions, retiree health care and debt service, according to a new study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
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REPORT ON MUNICIPAL FINANCES:

Jan 7 2014

Cape Code Today

Improved revenue collections in fiscal 2013 were not sufficient to put a dent in major unfunded municipal pension, retiree health care and debt service burdens, according to a report marked for release Tuesday morning.
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2013's Top ten political stories

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Dec 29 2013

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service / Cape Code Today

Under intense pressure from groups like the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the threat of a 2014 ballot question to repeal the tax, Gov. Deval Patrick and Legislative leaders relented, and in the process admitted that perhaps they had not understood the full economic picture and impact of the tax when they included it in their financing package.

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State's unemployment figure exceeds nation's

in

Dec 20 2013

By Andy Metzger, State House News Service / Daily News

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation this month estimated that Massachusetts will add 53,000 jobs in fiscal 2015, which would represent the largest annual jump in employment since 2000.
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Modest Revenue Growth Forecast For Massachusetts Budget

Dec 12 2013

By Paul Tuthill, WAMC

Michael Widmer, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation told a Statehouse hearing Wednesday that his group forecasts a 4.7 percent increase in tax revenues…or about $1 billion. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue projects similar growth.
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Economic growth could net $1B for state

Dec 12 2013

By Marie Szaniszlo, The Boston Herald

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation urged the governor to use the extra cash to stabilize the pension system and warned the economy could slow again next year and transportation costs could add up fast.
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Experts See Modest Revenue Growth In Mass.

Dec 12 2013

By Bob Salsberg, AP / The Street

Michael Widmer, president of the independent Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the group's forecast called for tax revenues to grow by 4.7 percent in the fiscal year that begins July 1. But he cautioned that the less than robust economic recovery means the next budget will be another challenging one.
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Experts See Rising Tax Collections In Mass.

Dec 11 2013

By Michael Norton and Matt Murphy, State House News Service / WBUR

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates state tax revenues will grow by 4.7 percent in fiscal 2015, a rate of growth that the foundation said was below the rates of previous economic recoveries. MTF estimates fiscal 2014 tax collections will reach $23.27 billion, or $470 million above the forecast used to build the state budget.
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Modest revenue growth expected for Massachusetts budget

Dec 11 2013

WCVB

Michael Widmer, president of the independent Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, told a Statehouse hearing that his group was forecasting 4.7 percent growth in tax revenues in the fiscal year starting July 1. But he said most of the growth would be eaten up by non-discretionary costs such as Medicaid and pensions.
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Lawmakers told of revenue increases as budget looms

Dec 11 2013

By John J. Monahan, The Worcester Telegram

Those projections were similar to the forecast offered by Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. The organization said it expects state revenues to grow by about 4.7 percent to $24.37 billion in fiscal 2015, producing about $1.1 billion in revenue growth for the state. Despite an improving economic picture, the 2015 budget will challenge lawmakers once again, Mr.
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Widmer challenges state budget writers

Dec 11 2013

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service / The Lowell Sun

With a slow but steady economic recovery expected to pump at least $1 billion in new revenue into state coffers next fiscal year, House and Senate lawmakers and the Patrick administration were urged Wednesday to consider building a truly balanced budget that doesn't rely on one-time money or reserve funds.

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Mass. Officials Expect Modest Economic Growth Next Year

Dec 11 2013

By Sarah Birnbaum, WGBH

The group Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation says most of the projected growth would be eaten up by mandatory costs such as Medicaid and pensions.

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Higher tax collections, modest growth predicted FY15

Dec 11 2013

By Christine Lee, WWLP

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer cautioned that the projected rise in revenue is less than in past economic recoveries that grew by 6 to 7 percent. They say most of the money will be quickly absorbed by current spending obligations.

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Immigrant students push for equal tuition rates

Dec 11 2013

By Christine Lee, WWLP

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates under 1,000 students annually would be affected by the legislation. They also say the state would gain rather than lose money because the bill would encourage students to attend school who would otherwise be unable to afford it.

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Property-tax bills climbing across region

Dec 8 2013

By Grant Welker, The Lowell Sun

"As local aid falls, property taxes are really the only recourse communities have to raise revenues," said Carolyn Ryan, a policy analyst at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "You're seeing increased pressure on municipal budgets."
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New state guidelines may end pension perk

Dec 8 2013

By Lyle Moran, The Lowell Sun

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he hopes the state Legislature acts to put an end to anyone being able to secure pension credit for time they did not work, even if they now will be required to pay a nominal amount for that time. "Clearly, there should be a legislative fix," Widmer said.
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STATE HOUSE ROUNDUP: A time to pause and give thanks

Dec 3 2013

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service / Plympton Reporter

“Any claim that that money isn’t for transportation is simply not true,” Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer said in a quote gleefully circulated by transportation advocates and ignored by gas-tax-indexing foes.
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Tiny cut in Massachusetts income tax expected in new year

Dec 3 2013

By Dan Ring, The Republican

Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said his organization is anticipating that the .05 percent cut in the income tax will take place on Jan. 1. "It seems like a virtual certainty," Widmer said.
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To rail, or not to rail? Answer likely lies outside SouthCoast

Dec 1 2013

By Ariel Wittenberg, SouthCoast Today

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, agreed. "It's not a value judgment on the project itself, it's the fact that it costs $2 billion," he said.
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Law contradicts activists’ claims about Mass. gas tax use

Nov 26 2013

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service / Cape Code Times

“Any claim that that money isn’t for transportation is simply not true,” said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer. “As you well know, the transportation financing law had a lot of moving pieces, but the clearest new transportation funding going to transportation are the taxes on gas and the gas tax indexing.”

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Report: Unfunded liabilities digging deeper fiscal hole

Oct 18 2013

By Lisa Hagen, The Lowell Sun

"The way the payment schedule is going to be structured is how much the state will contribute over the next 30 years to get unfunded liability to 0," said Widmer. "The way payment works right now has unfunded liability increasing for next several years."
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Editorial: Massachusetts' public pension system can't live up to pledges

Oct 16 2013

The Republican

“A variety of factors account for this reality, including legislation to enhance benefits and provide early retirement incentives,” the report said. The MTF's report also noted that the retirement systems had failed to achieve what it called “the 8 percent or 8.25 percent target for annual earnings on pension assets.”
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