In The News

Middlesex sheriff plants forest for $20G

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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.

 

Money-saver - or boondoggle?

Jul 22 2008

By Pamela H. Metaxas, The Republican

A report last year by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and the Boston Municipal Research Bureau found that health insurance costs for cities and towns rose by 84.4 percent from fiscal 2001 to fiscal 2006, while the state commission's costs rose only 47 percent over the same period.
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Editorial: An imprudent budget

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Jul 21 2008

The Providence Journal

The governor's 13-paragraph press release announcing the signing didn't say much, but two days earlier the Massachusetts Taxpayers' Foundation, which represents big business in the state, had published an analysis asserting that the 2009 budget may be as much as $1 billion in the red. According to Michael Widmer, head of the foundation, the budget assumes a three-year extension of the federal Medicaid waiver letting Massachusetts implement its experimental 2006 Health Care Law. This waiver has not been granted, and if it is discontinued or reduced, the state would lose hundreds of millions of dollars the budget's planners have been counting on.

Mr. Widmer's other concern is a potential $400 million drop in capital-gains tax collections, which would match losses during the 2001 recession.

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State talks to set healthcare reform precedent

Jul 21 2008

By Rebecca Knight, The Financial Times

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded budget watchdog group, said the result of these talks could set an important policy example for other states considering healthcare reform.

"The state is asking for a large increase - several billion dollars over the next three years - but the Bush administration is trying to hold down Medicaid spending, and not set precedents for other states," he said. "There is a big question mark over whether the federal government will come close to meeting the state's goal."

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'Precarious' state budget hinges on Medicaid waiver

Jul 20 2008

'Precarious' state budget hinges on Medicaid waiver

By Matt Murphy, Lowell Sun

"We think it's a very risky budget ," said Michael Widmer, president of Massachusetts Taxpayers Association. "It's risky because it hasn't adjusted spending to reflect reduced revenue and some uncertainties that lay ahead."
 

Earmark trims leave many towns lacking

Jul 20 2008

By Matt Carroll, The Boston Globe

As a general rule, "the state is not in a position to fund most of these earmarks, regardless of how important they are for local communities," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

The state is also in tough financial shape and "we don't have the luxury of funding these kinds of earmarks."

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Pike refinance push spurs demands for alternatives

Jul 18 2008

By Hillary Chabot, Boston Herald

"The only way out of this is to increase the gas tax or increase tolls, or some combination," said Massachusetts Taxpayers Association President Michael Widmer.
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Cahill calls for turnpike overhaul

Jul 18 2008

By Eric Moskowitz, The Boston Globe

Budget watchdog Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, also blasted the administration's plan.

"This is one of the most irresponsible proposals I have seen seriously considered by the Legislature in my 16 years," said Widmer, whose organization is backed by business. "We are just heading off a cliff, Thelma and Louise, with a smile on our face."

Widmer called for a gas-tax increase and new tolls to help the Turnpike Authority meet the terms of its Big Dig-related debts.

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Big Dig Costs Swell To $22 Billion

Jul 17 2008

The Boston Channel

"Either a gas tax or toll increase. Those are the only two sources of revenue, and in some fashion, that is inevitable. So the question is: When and how much?" said Mike Widmer, of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
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