In The News

Special pensions cost state millions

Jul 25 2008

By Sean P. Murphy , The Boston Globe

"These kinds of special pensions are very costly and should simply be eliminated," Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said in an interview. "They are just another example of sweetheart deals."
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Sizing up Question 1

Jul 25 2008

By Dan McDonald, Framinhham Tab

Removing legal obligations like debt service payments, said Widmer, the repeal would result in at least a 50 percent funding cut for all state programs.

"This is the opposite of good tax policy," said Widmer. 

From aid to cities and towns to Medicaid assistance to public higher education the measure, if passed, "would have dramatic consequences on all state programs," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
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Massachusetts Touts Success of Mandatory Health Insurance as Critics Decry Costs

Jul 24 2008

By Molly Line, Fox News

"We can't have 10 percent cost growth every year indefinitely and expect to sustain this kind of reform," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation.
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Patrick's fuzzy math on taxes

Jul 24 2008

By Joan Vennochi , The Boston Globe

In the face of Patrick's own warnings, legislators this week are expected to take up a variety of spending bills, including a $3 billion capital facility bond bill and a $1.6 billion environmental bond bill. A $3 billion bridge repair bill is also pending, along with the $2.3 billion turnpike bailout, which Widmer called "the most fiscally risky proposal being given consideration by the Legislature during my 16 years as head of the Taxpayers Foundation."
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Coalition fights fee plan for insurers

Jul 24 2008

By Kay Lazar, The Boston Globe

"There is potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in savings in this plan, and I have been perplexed as to why the administration has backed away from doing this in the midst of saying there is a shortfall in healthcare," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded public policy group.
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2 Pike sign hangers cruise to $100G-plus pay

Jul 24 2008

By Joe Dwinell, The Boston Herald

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president Michael Widmer blasted the Pike for failing to move quickly enough to replace overtime-sucking toll takers with technology.

"It's striking that the Turnpike is paying this much for toll takers at the very moment that they are looking for a bailout from the state," he said.

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Manufacturing report brightens mayors' meeting

Jul 24 2008

By Richard Gaines, Gloucester Daily Times

He noted that fast-rising health and pension costs absorb what little expansion there are in revenues, leaving the state with no relief to send to Main Street. Then Widmer turned to the parallel unraveling of the finances of the two giant public transportation enterprises — the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

"The infrastructure is falling apart at a really incredible rate," he said.

"I don't know if (the MBTA) can go into bankruptcy," Widmer said, making it that's where he thinks the T and MassPike are heading.

"We're not addressing those problems any more than we're addressing the structural problem of local aid resources," he said. "I don't see any effort by the leadership of the state to address these problems."

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State’s new fund is a mystery

Jul 23 2008

By Jon Chesto, The Patriot Ledger

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said that although lawmakers know how much money in taxes the state collected for the 2007 fiscal year, there are still a couple of unanswered questions. First, they need to settle on the size of any supplemental budget that would rely on surplus money. They also need to wait for a tally of the state expenditures that had been allocated for 2007, but not actually spent in that fiscal year.

"The goal of supporting economic development is certainly an important one, (but) it's unusual to take this kind of action," Widmer said of the lawmakers' decision not to specify where the money would go. "The good news is, at this point, they're not squandering the money. On the other hand, we don't know what they're going to use it for."

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Middlesex sheriff plants forest for $20G

in

Jul 23 2008

Middlesex sheriff plants forest for $20G

By Christopher Scott, The Lowell Sun

Michael Widmer, executive director of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, called the spending "egregious."
"This is just the kind of excess that undercuts the public trust in the legitimate purposes of government," Widmer said. "This level of spending is particularly egregious given the enormous fiscal pressures facing state and local governments."

Widmer, whose private organization monitors state spending, added it's not how much the trees cost taxpayers, but the logic behind the spending.

"Public officials have the responsibility to manage public funds carefully, and this obviously fails that test," said Widmer. "It kind of makes you wonder if this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of excessive spending in the Middlesex Sheriff's Department."

 

Hospital payments central to federal health care negotiations

Jul 23 2008

Hospital payments central to federal health care negotiations

By Kyle Cheney, State House News Service /

"We need to be on an aggressive schedule to eliminate those special payments," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "Politically, it's a very powerful institution with powerful backers. I'm sure it's a thorn in the side of waiver negotiations."

Widmer said redirecting those payments toward other health care costs would eliminate the need to raise new revenue.

 
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