High school students march for jobs

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By Brian Ballou | The Boston Globe | February 21, 2013

More than 1,000 high school students from across Massachusetts marched from Faneuil Hall to the State House Thursday, calling for increased funding for youth jobs and asking that more companies create summer positions for teens.

“This is important for me to be here, begging these legislators for more jobs, because we are the future,” said Sheraine Blake, 18, a senior at the Boston Community Leadership Academy, as she stood on the State House steps. “And to save kids from being out on the street and doing things they shouldn’t be doing, why not open up more jobs for us?”

“It will cut down on drugs and all the violence,” she added.

The students, who hailed from at least a dozen cities and towns, chanted “We want jobs” as they wound through downtown on their way to the State House. Once there, they were briefed on how to approach elected officials about their concerns. State Representative Elizabeth A. “Liz” Malia, a Democrat who represents Jamaica Plain, met with the students, as did several other state legislators. Read More

Should Mass. raise taxes?

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Four views on whether there have been enough reforms to justify Patrick’s proposed tax increase

Globe Correspondents | The Boston Globe | February 17, 2013

Yes: Pair revenue, reform

Since 1998, the Commonwealth has reduced personal and corporate income tax rates, costing the state $2.5 billion a year — leaving little to pay current bills or deal with $80 billion in past unfunded liabilities, let alone make critical education and transportation investments for our future. Yet with the public demanding reform before revenue, the governor and Legislature have been hesitant to increase taxes.

Reform is precisely what the Commonwealth has been doing. Major changes to the public employee health-insurance system and public pensions will save billions of dollars over the next 30 years. Accountability in our K-12 schools will enhance classroom quality. The Turnpike Authority was merged into the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the “Fast 14” project has sped up bridge repairs.

Thousands of other efficiencies, big and small, have been implemented, from replacing police officers with civilian flaggers to moving 3 million Registry of Motor Vehicle transactions online. Operating under a new strict statewide performance management system, every executive office has been cutting costs. With this focus on efficiency, state government employment has grown by just 0.3 percent over the past two years, while total non-farm employment has grown by 1.9 percent. State government is shrinking as a share of the state’s economy. Read More

Tech sector spurs Mass. growth as US economy contracts

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By Robert Gavin | The Boston Globe | January 30, 2013

No one is calling it a return to boom times, but the state’s economy grew modestly in the ­final three months of 2012, even as the US economy unexpectedly contracted slightly, the University of Massachusetts reported Wednesday.

The contrast offered further evidence the state is rebounding from the recession at a more robust pace than the nation as a whole, largely on the strength of its technology industries.

“This appears to be a slow quarter, but the Massachusetts economy is growing still,” said Alan Clayton-Matthews, a Northeastern University economist and author of the report. “And growth is going to pick up.”

The state’s economy grew at a 1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, while the Commerce Department said the US economy shrunk at an annual rate of one-tenth of a percent, largely because of a pullback in government spending. Read More

Broadside: Mass. Gov.’s transportation plan

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NECN.com | January 23, 2013

(NECN) – Wednesday morning’s Green Line fire wasn’t just an inconvenience for MBTA riders – it was also an opportunity for Mass. Governor Deval Patrick to make a point about his new budget.

The budget includes more than $1 billion in new transportation spending, some of which would be used to upgrade the antiquated MBTA system.

The Governor’s transportation plan comes at an average cost of $1 billion more a year in taxes and fees. It includes big-ticket projects, such as a $1.8 billion commuter rail extension to Fall River and New Bedford known as the South Coast Rail.

James Stergios and Stephanie Pollack have been combing through the Governor’s transportation plan with professional eyes.

Stergios is the executive director of the Pioneer Institute, and Pollack is the associate director at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, which is part of the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition. Read More

Patrick vows new funds for roads, rail

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By Eric Moskowitz | The Boston Globe | January 4, 2013

Governor Deval Patrick said Friday that he will unveil a proposal later this month to raise the necessary money through taxes or fees to fix the state’s financially beleaguered transportation network.

Patrick declined to say how he would raise the money or how much he would seek. Past reports have identified an annual gap of roughly $1 billion between what the system needs and what the state raises and spends.

But his comments add to a growing sense of inevitability on Beacon Hill that residents will be asked to pay more to repair the state’s crumbling infrastructure and confront years of red ink.

Legislative leaders who previously embraced a policy of “reform before revenue” appear to be shifting from asking whether more money is needed to asking how to raise that money and where to spend it. Read More

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