Does changing employers’ access to criminal histories affect ex-offenders’ recidivism?: evidence from the 2010–2012 Massachusetts CORI Reform
This paper examines how changes in employers? access to job applicants? criminal histories affect ex-offender recidivism. We use extensive state administrative data on individual criminal histories spanning the 2010?2012 Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reform, widely regarded as landmark legislation governing access to individuals? criminal information. The CORI Reform: i) banned inquiring about criminal history on initial job applications, and ii) broadened the list of groups eligible to use the state?s criminal records repository while simultaneously restricting ...
Can local governments give citizens what they want? Referendum outcomes in Massachusetts
Economists and political scientists have long debated the nature of the process that determines government taxation and service levels in a democracy. During the 1980s, the role of referenda in determining city and town property taxes, and hence local spending, increased dramatically in Massachusetts. This article uses recent Massachusetts experience to examine the degree to which citizens "get what they want" from the local public sector and what it is they seem to want. ; The passage of Proposition 21/2 in November 1980 signalled both a shift in statewide voter sentiment against local ...
Restraining the Leviathan: property tax limitations in Massachusetts
We examine the effects of Proposition 2-1/2--a property tax limitation law approved by Massachusetts voters in 1980--and assess voter satisfaction with these effects. We find that the proposition had a smaller effect on local revenues and spending than expected, as a result of both amendments to the law and a strong economy. Voters in 1980 believed there was significant waste in local government, partly because of an inability to monitor local officials. Proposition 2-1/2 curbed these agency losses, but direct local override votes and municipal expenditure patterns imply that the proposition ...
Will the tobacco settlement payments go up in smoke?
In December 1995, Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger filed a civil suit against the tobacco industry. The Commonwealths lawsuit charged that the tobacco industry had conducted research into the addictive properties of nicotine and used this research to willfully manipulate the nicotine level of cigarettes in order to addict smokers and increase cigarette sales. The lawsuit asked the court for damages to compensate the Commonwealth for expenditures paid to treat smoking-related illnesses. At the time this litigation was filed, Massachusetts was the fifth state in the nation to ...
Rating Massachusetts' tax competitiveness
Massachusetts in the 1990s: the role of state government
Why another study of Massachusetts state government? In the past year, two Commissions established by the Governor have submitted reports, nonprofit citizen groups have come forth with lists of suggested reforms, and the legislature has had its own proposals. The goal of the study described here is quite different. Rather than offering solutions to the immediate budget problems, this study examines the major expenditures of state government and the forces that caused them to grow so rapidly in Massachusetts during the 1980s. ; For the most part, the Commonwealth has been spending revenues on ...
Should Massachusetts reform its bank tax?
The growing shortage of affordable housing for the extremely low income in Massachusetts
This report identifies ways that the state?s policymakers and housing agencies and providers can more efficiently use limited resources to address the affordable housing needs of extremely low-income households. The first is to prioritize rental assistance in areas of the state where rents are low and the inventory of market-supplied housing is high. Doing so will take advantage of local market conditions that are favorable to rental-assistance subsidies while addressing these areas? high rates of rent burden. Tax-credit and other supply-oriented subsidies can be targeted more heavily to ...
Job creation and destruction in Massachusetts: gross flows among industries
The Massachusetts economy has experienced wide swings in employment in the 1990s, losing over 10 percent of existing jobs in the 1990-91 recession (which began locally in 1989) and not surpassing its pre-recession job peak until early 1998. Within individual sectors of the economy, the losses and gains have been even greater, with many manufacturing industries losing jobs almost nonstop while some non-manufacturing industries have expanded markedly. This article examines these employment swings and attempts to better understand their dynamic underpinnings by disaggregating them into the ...
Property tax limits and local fiscal behavior: did Massachusetts cities and towns spend too little on town services under proposition 2 1/2?
This paper examines the impact of a specific local tax limit, Proposition 2 in Massachusetts, on the fiscal behavior of cities and towns in Massachusetts and the capitalization of that behavior into property values. Proposition 2 places a cap on the effective property tax rate at 2.5 percent and limits nominal annual growth in property tax revenues to 2.5 percent, unless residents pass a referendum (an override) allowing a greater increase. The study analyzes the 1990-94 period, a time when Massachusetts municipalities faced significant fiscal stress because of a 30 percent cut in real estate ...