Few people understand the ins and outs in Massachusetts state government like Doug Howgate. Now, Howgate will get a new position to put that knowledge to work.
The board of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation on Thursday voted to promote Howgate from executive vice president to the president’s job, to take over for Eileen McAnneny after she leaves at the end of the year.
For decades, the business-backed research and advocacy organization has acted as an adviser on fiscal issues to Beacon Hill leaders. Under McAnneny’s eight-year tenure, the group also tackled other important topics such as the opioid epidemic and early childhood education, with an eye on the impacts to the state’s budget and competitiveness. Howgate said he plans to continue that approach.
In particular, Howgate said he wants to take a closer look next year at demographic trends and related workforce challenges, and how they’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For me, it boils down to: You’ve got to make Massachusetts a place where people and businesses want to be,” Howgate said.
From Howgate’s perspective, the position is the culmination of nearly two decades of jobs steeped in the behind-the-scenes details of Massachusetts budgeting and governance — a career that began with an internship in then-state Senator Bob Antonioni’s office.
As MTF president, Howgate will oversee a five-person staff and a budget of about $1.2 million. McAnneny has earned about $400,000 a year in the job; MTF is not immediately disclosing what Howgate’s compensation would be.
“MTF is a dream place to work, and certainly leading MTF is a dream job,” Howgate added.
He first joined MTF in 2015 as research and policy director, after a stint as deputy chief of staff at the Massachusetts Port Authority. In 2018, he moved back to the state Senate to be a top aide to Senate President Karen Spilka, then returned to the taxpayers foundation in early 2021 as executive vice president.
Before Massport, he was budget director for the Senate Ways and Means committee, where Spilka said he demonstrated a grasp of how to use the complex budgeting process to accomplish important public policy goals.
“I don’t know of anybody in the entire state who knows and understands all the aspects and nuances of not only the budget and the line items of the budget, but the intersection of the budget and policy as well [as Howgate],” she said.
At Massport, Howgate worked closely with then-chief executive Tom Glynn to help manage the quasipublic agency, which oversees Logan Airport and Boston’s two biggest ship terminals. “He’s a collaborator,” Glynn said. “He’s not somebody who thinks he knows the answer to everything without getting a variety of points of view.”
Mike Caljouw, a board member at the taxpayers foundation and a vice president at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, said Howgate’s brilliance stood out during his time with MTF.
Caljouw, who was on the committee that interviewed finalists for the job, said he believes Howgate will hold his own when mixing it up with Beacon Hill’s power brokers.
“It’s almost like he was perfectly crafted for this job through experience, through intellect, and by temperament,” Caljouw said. “He’s a collaborative problem solver by nature. He also has the added intellect on top of that to take themes that people talk about and translate them into policy or problem-solving solutions.”