In The News: Public Finance

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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 website and is paying about $10 million a month to keep people in temporary health plans while officials scramble to put them into permanent plans that comply with the federal health care law. Given these costs, “it would have been better to hold the money in reserve,” Bagley said.
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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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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. Widmer said it was politically unrealistic to expect the Legislature to revisit the gas tax on its own anytime soon, given that it hadn't touched the tax in more than two decades.
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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. I think taxpayers' patience with overrides and the support for them is waning."
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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. I think that would be a positive step.”
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