Promoting Informed Debate through Public Policy Research
2013 Annual Meeting
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The Research Bureau 2013 Annual Report - click here to download.
Watch our 2013 Annual Meeting - click here to watch.
In preparation for the upcoming elections for mayor, city council and school committee, The Research Bureau has prepared a set of questions for the candidates. The questions cover a range of issues, and are meant both to canvass the candidates’ views and to contribute to the public debate about some of the most important challenges facing Worcester.
This report, the third in our series Worcester by the Numbers, provides detailed data on the housing market, land use, and property taxes.
This report looks at Worcester's FY14 budget of $563 million and suggest how Worcester can continue to balance its budget while facing increasing school, healthcare, and pension system costs.
This report, the second in our series Worcester by the Numbers, is generously underwritten by MassDevelopment, and focuses on Worcester's economy and jobs during the past decade. It provides data on industries that are growing and shrinking, unemployment, wages, and number of establishments by industry.
A Prescription for Retiree Health Care: How Worcester can vanquish its OPEB liability while keeping its workforce happy and healthy
This report addresses a crisis local governments are facing across the nation: how to pay for OPEB – "other post-employment benefits" that were promised to retirees in better fiscal times. It examines the genesis of retiree benefits, their runaway growth, and the threat to municipal solvency, and suggests new policies to fulfill old promises while continuing to make healthcare affordable and obtainable for Worcester's public employees and retirees.
This report, which examines the operations and potential effects of the slots industry on the City of Worcester, was undertaken because Worcester has been designated as the preferred site for a slot-machine casino by Mass Gaming LLC, a subsidiary of Rush Gaming. It is intended as a supplement and update to our 2007 report "Casino Gambling in Worcester: The Case For and Against", which concluded that the net effects of bringing a casino to Worcester would be far more harmful than beneficial. In our present research, we discovered that the societal harm associated with casinos in general is greatly exacerbated by new developments in slot-machine technology, multiplying the dangers identified in the earlier report.
This report analyzes Worcester's demographic, education, employment, income, and other trends based on data from the 2010 Census. The data indicate fairly substantial changes in the City's population over the past couple of decades measured by a number of different indicators.
This report analyzes the pros and cons of academically selective high schools to determine whether the Worcester Public Schools (WPS) should establish one. We conclude that the system should have one for many reasons. Among them, students of high academic potential deserve a course of study that meets their needs and WPS has an obligation to fully develop the capacities of gifted students no less than of less talented ones. Such a school could become a community asset for both businesses and residents to live and work in Worcester.
This report discusses the regulations of Worcester's livery vehicles and taxis. Specifically, it addresses the issue of whether the City should be engaged in setting limits to the number of liveries by placing it in the broader context of the origins and history of the taxi medallion system elsewhere in the U.S., along with its original institution in Worcester in 1980. After summarizing the regulations that distinguish liveries from taxis, the report cites the findings of other researchers regarding the effects of restricting the issuance of taxi medallions. Such findings carry implications not only with respect to restricting the number of liveries, but also regarding the desirability of continuing or modifying the City's policy regarding taxi medallions.
This report offers a number of observations on Worcester's FY13 municipal budget of $542 million. We conclude that while Worcester's finances are stable as a result of serious reforms in municipal employee health insurance plans negotiated by the City Manager and the unions and level-funding of local aid because of improved state revenues, the City's future situation remains uncertain. The huge drop in the value of the housing market on which the City is dependent for property taxes and unsustainable municipal retiree pension and health insurance benefits leave Worcester in a precarious condition.
This report looks at recent performance trends in Worcester's police department, fire department, and emergency medical services. The Appendices provide crime data in Worcester by sector for 2010 and 2011.
This report, generously underwritten by MassDevelopment, examines the economic health of the city and region from a variety of angles such as the tax base and the labor and housing markets.