Legislative Pay Increase

To see the final package the legislature is actually voting on — please go to this link.

The uncomfortable subject of state elected-official compensation has come up.  I am likely to need to vote on it sometime soon and I would welcome your thoughts.

Back in 2014, the legislature created a commission to review the compensation of the legislature and state constitutional officers.  The commissioners included two in senior positions at the University of Massachusetts, one from the Governor’s budget agency, two from good government groups (the League of Women Voters, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation), two more from the private sector (one from the Business Roundtable, one a former Federal Reserve executive).

It would not be fair to call anyone in the group an outsider, but the group was certainly well-informed, experienced, competent and credible and their report is very complete and factual. It is significant that their findings and recommendations were unanimous in every respect.

The commission’s report came out in December 2014, in the middle of the Patrick-to-Baker transition.   There was no appetite to act on it at the start of the 2015-2016 session as the state was going through a round of deep budget cuts.

From a legislative perspective, there is no good or comfortable time to act on the report, but now is a reasonable time.   It makes sense to consider compensation in the beginning of a session when most of the legislative leadership roles have not been assigned — fewer legislators will have to vote on particular stipends associated with their own positions.

In a nutshell, the commission recommended substantial pay raises for the state’s senior elected leaders. Their compensation is not out of line with compensation of similar positions in other states, but it is a small fraction of the compensation of roughly comparable positions in the private sector. The commission pointed to the need to attract skilled leaders, the desirability of keeping those leaders away from financial pressures that would create temptations and the importance of attracting those who are not independently wealthy to serve.

The Governor would go from $151,800 to $250,000 (including a new housing allowance) and the other constitutional officers — Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor and Secretary of State — would receive increases to $165,000 or $175,000. The largest percentage increase would go to the Senate President and the Speaker, who despite their enormous power and central role, have the lowest salaries — they would rise from $102,279 to $175,000.  Knowing the responsibilities of all of these positions and having a window into the work load and pressures that they entail, I support these increases without ambivalence. The pay scale will still remain dramatically below comparable private sector roles and, in fact, well below many public sector roles (see box below).

The recommendations of the commission will only result in minimal changes for the majority of legislators. The base compensation of legislators is governed by a constitutional amendment (Article CXVIII) which causes it to rise and fall with the median household income of the state. It was $58,157 when I started in 2007 and has moved up and down, most recently increased to $62,547 as of the start of this year. In addition to that base compensation, legislators receive an expense allowance of $7,200, which is fixed by statute. This allowance goes straight into legislative paychecks as taxable W-2 income and there is no specific accounting for actual expenses. Finally, legislators are entitled to a statutory “per diem” payment for each day that they travel to the state house, ranging from $10 to $100 based on travel distance. Many legislators decline the per diem, as do I.

The commission recommended that the per diem concept be abolished and that the expense allowance be increased to $10,000 for close-in legislators and $15,000 for legislators outside a 50 mile radius. For the closest legislators who have been declining the per diem, this will net to a $2,800 increase. For a few of the most distant legislators who, given their high travel costs, do accept the per diem, the change may net to a slight decrease. The per diem concept is messy, arbitrary and unverifiable. I support without ambivalence the concept of eliminating it and adjusting the expense allowance as proposed.

For legislators who hold some type of leadership post — a committee chairmanship or a role in floor operations (majority leader, whip, etc.) — the commissions recommendations may have a substantial impact. The commission recognized that “reasonable adjustments in the stipends provided to other House and Senate leadership positions are justified” but did not detail any recommendations as to these positions. Given the substantial increases recommended for the top leaders, some substantial adjustment would be appropriate. As of this writing, there is no proposal on the table, but if we vote on a bill in the next week or two, it is likely to include increases for the various stipended leadership posts. Currently most committee chairs receive stipends of $7,500 with certain committees ranging higher, up to $25,000 for the Ways and Means chairs.

For example, as Senate Chair of the Judiciary, my pre-tax paycheck last year included base pay of $60,033 plus $7,200 for expense plus a chairmanship stipend of $7,500 — a total of $74,733. With the proposed expense adjustment, that would increase to $77,533. The stipend would likely also increase by a so-far unspecified amount, but I would expect the amount to be material.

I have always been grateful for the opportunity to serve the public. I have made peace with the idea that I earn substantially less than I did in private sector roles I held right out of school and I have been proud to make the life-style sacrifices I have made over my 25 years of appointed and elected public service. The life style I do have is adequate and I am acutely aware that there are many people in need at this time.

So, it is with real ambivalence that I contemplate a pay increase that could benefit me personally. But, for all the reasons that the commission cited, I am likely to support the recommendations.

Responses to Comments (as of January 23)

Thanks so much to all of who have commented on both sides of this question. The exchange has helped me a lot.

A couple of points that I neglected to mention that are responsive to some of the comments:

  • The stipends for legislative leaders have not been adjusted since 1982.  The bulk of the recommended pay increase for them is catch up to inflation.  This should give some comfort to those commenters who are comparing the large percentage increase to adjustments they are accustomed to receiving themselves.  After the increase, the two senior legislative leaders will be at or near the top in the nation, but, other states will catch up as they get around to making adjustments. To avoid big catch up adjustments in the future the commission recommended indexing of the legislative stipend.
  • The adjustments taken together total under 0.01% of the state budget and they will be absorbed within agency budgets.  The specific recommendations of the commission total under $1,000,000 and the less specific recommendations as to other legislative leadership roles will have similarly limited costs.  No budgetary increase will be required in the current fiscal year, but, in future years, the costs will be part of the budgetary base.
  • The responsibilities of legislative leaders are actually and necessarily much greater than those of other members.  Some lamented the steep differences in compensation among legislators at different levels of responsibility.  While I favor a shared leadership model and a transparent, inclusive approach, there has to be an identified leadership team to run the show on a day-to-day basis and there is a lot to that.
  • Legislators will not be voting on their own personal compensation, rather on the compensation of a class of employees that happens to include them.   That sounds like distinction without a difference, but it is actually important.  Many votes that legislators take affect them personally — if they cut taxes, they benefit from the tax cut; if they spend more on schools, their kids benefit from a better education.  Ethical rulings prohibit legislators outright from voting on matters in which they have a unique personal interest, but not on matters in which they are members of a beneficiary class.

I’m grateful to those who commented to the effect of “you deserve it”, but this conversation has helped me get clear in my own mind that that is not the right question.    It is irrelevant whether any particular individual or even a class of individuals “deserves” an increase.  While other hard-working people are struggling, no one “deserves” anything.

The real question is how the compensation adjustments will affect the public interest generally.  As a taxpayer, I favor the increases for two basic reasons.  First, these important positions should be attractive enough that there is vibrant competition to fill them. Many voters would say that they don’t feel that they consistently have good options.   Every two years (four years for the statewide offices), these seats are open, but there is often only one candidate.  To some extent the lack of competition reflects satisfaction with the performance of incumbents and/or recognition of the power of incumbency, but it also suggests that the compensation offered is often inadequate to attract people.

Second, I don’t want legislative leaders to feel distracting financial pressures.  The responsibilities of legislative leaders do create financial strains.  They are expected to make numerous public appearances and frequently to pickup event costs for other legislators, staff and constituents.    If they do have any significant outside sources of income (which most legislators do not), they have less time to devote to them.  It has been become standard practice for senior legislators to fund-raise heavily and to spend those campaign funds on business expenses like business phone, business travel and business meals.  While the practice is legal, it does reflect financial strain and contributes to a tighter relationship between donors and legislative leaders.  The pay increase will not end that practice, but it will lower the strain in a healthy way.

Overall, the commission’s recommendations are thoughtfully designed and benefit the public. I expect to support the legislative package that implements them.

 

What do public employees make?

A lot of people seem to be responding to the proposed numbers for the senior elected officials as being too high. I would agree that they should not be making what bandit CEO’s make (millions or billions).

But I do feel that the proposed salaries in the $150,000 + range are actually reasonable — at the proposed levels, the top leaders would still be making less than hundreds or thousands of public employees. That may be the most appropriate comparison.

Any one can view the entire state payroll at mass.gov/opencheckbook. If you take a minute to download the data and sort through you will see that among state employees in 2016, there were:

  • 172 earning more than $250,000 (the originally proposed level for the Governor)
  • 1,173 earning more than $175,000 (the originally proposed level for the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 12,476 earning more than $102,279 (the current level of the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 35,917 earning more than $74,733 (the current level of a typical Senator like me)

In the City of Boston in 2014, according to a download from https://data.cityofboston.gov/ there were:

  • 66 earning more than $250,000 (the originally proposed level for the Governor)
  • 591 earning more than $175,000 (the originally proposed level for the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 4,621 earning more than $102,279 (the current level of the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 9,400 earning more than $74,733 (the current level of a typical Senator like me)

Those earning more than the typical Senator include school custodians, teachers, firefighters, etc.  The work they do is important, but so is the work we do in the state house.  Incidentally, all of these public employees have pensions which are the same or better than legislative pensions.

To see the final package the legislature is actually voting on — please go to this link.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

289 replies on “Legislative Pay Increase”

  1. I am all for pay increases for most workers. The only thing is that before the senior people receive raises, I would like to know that every staff person or non-senior person is receiving a living wage. Too many people cannot afford to live on their full-time wages or are not even hired as full-time employees. The other matter is that all of your senior people can and, very likely do, earn a considerable amount of extra annual income by lecturing. They can do that if they choose to, am I right? So, for example, if the governor earns $500,000 for speaking fees annually, what does he need with a quarter of a million dollars salary? I do understand the importance of attracting good people to serve in government positions by offering a decent salary, but this is not for entry level positions. Most of us start at the bottom and work our way up the ladder. Furthermore, there are more teachers than politicians and we need to attract excellent people to teaching, too. I’d rather increase the pay of our teachers to attract outstanding educators to teach in our public schools. We need to start preparing our children for the future by hiring the best and the brightest — this is the group that chooses not to teach in order to make more money. Who can blame them? So, no, I’d prefer to let the senior politicians continue to make their current decent salaries and let them continue to earn money by lecturing, etc., because their political position allows them to do that.

  2. No way pay increase using public money. The increase should go for the school lunch monitor, for the Janitors in the school, for veterans. I feel this is another way to spit in the face to the people who really poor and in really need.

  3. Hi Senator, Thank you again for seeking input for your vote. I have no problem with the raises except the two largest: The $70,000 increase each for the House Speaker and Senate President. That’s more than a lot of folks make in a year. And, yes, they both are low paid for their responsible positions? Seems like money grubbing rather than a boost for a job well done.
    And their is another factor: When these powerful folks (Senate President and House Speaker) retire they generally have a campaign fund with hundreds of thousands of unspent dollars. This money was given to them because of their positions, not necessarily because of their productivity or sterling characters. They hoard the boodle and then spend it for meals, car rentals and other costs associated with being a former politician.

    Before giving these two gentlemen another 70 grand a year, how about some data on how much money their predecessors had ‘left over’ when they left office. Thank you.

    1. The big jump is a result of the fact that they haven’t had an increase in their leadership stipend since 1982.

      Some do leave with money in their account, but it is hard for them to legally spend it on anything other than charity and future elected runs. When they are not in office or seeking office, they cannot use it for meals, etc. There is no law that allows spending on being a “former politician”.

  4. With all the dissension in the state and country, I do not believe this compensation should be approved. In particular, it does not seem that people whose major criteria is compensation for running for office. The biggest problem I have with this increase is that it prolongs the present emphasis on money instead of creating a better life for our citizens.

    I fail to have seen any correlation between political salaries and voting for the best interests of the citizens.

    1. Marcia, I share your concern about how this plays into current feeling, and I agree that people shouldn’t be running for office to get rich. No one in their right mind would, even with these increases. But we don’t want low compensation to be barrier to people who are not independently wealthy but do have responsibilities as in families.

  5. Some of the pay raises seem way too high. I see the point that the positions pay less than comparable ones but still- they were filled for those salaries. If they didn’t like the salaries they shouldn’t have applied.
    I am not against raises but they should be comparable to the rest of the state. I’m a government employee and I got something like 2.24%. This is what most people have to look forward to and it just isn’t fair. I work at the railroad retirement board and I have t explain to retirees that their COL increase was less than half of 1%. It’s just ridiculous. Thanks for your time and I appreciate you asking for feedback.

  6. When so many folks are only getting a 1% -3% for a pay raise, the raises for the Governor, Speaker are too high.

    When the Higher Ed people bargain for a contract and then they have to fight all over again to get it funded, just frosts me. I don’t want to hear how their have to be cuts but you vote for such a large pay raise makes me shake my head.

  7. I support the increases, although I think they should be somewhat lower for the House Speaker and Senate President. Serving in the state legislature is an important job that people should receive competitive compensation for, but that does need to be balanced with other needs of the state.

  8. At a time when the minimum wage is still only $11, it seems like these pay increases, putting our elected officials way over the average $55,000 a year that salaried folks take home, is a bit much. We are the one who pay those salaries and we are not getting nearly what they are.

  9. I support the modest increases and changes for the regular legislators and committee chairmen, where the theory is that they could do some other work on the side, e.g. as a lawyer. For the governor, Speaker, and Senate President, is the theory with these new salaries that they are working full time for the State? If so, if these large increases go through, they should not be allowed to earn money on the side.

  10. I oppose the increases for Senate Speaker and President. They seem quite excessive. If their main interest is profit-making, they should go into the private sector instead of using government position for that purpose.

  11. Where would this money come from? It should be based on performance like profit sharing e.g. If you guys hit balanced budget or surplus would be percentage. If their is a deficit no raise. And then tie a small percentage based on constant currency.

    1. The raises are well under 0.01% of the budget. We don’t do profit sharing — that would result in the ridiculous 8-figure payouts that you see private sector executives pocketing. These raises are tiny fractions of what happens in the private sector.

  12. It is called Public Service. It is not called career opportunity. I have some questions. How many days do the Legislators work in a year? By that I mean coming into the State House. I know some attend local meeting at night in their districts. That is not work that is campaigning. What do they pay for Medical insurance and what is the quality of their coverage? What do they pay towards their retirement and what do they get when they retire? How much of their campaign funds are used for living expenses? There is a loophole there. One example is they can write of a rental car and use it for every day use. I will not even mention lunch and dinner that they can write of. All they have to do is say it had to do with being reelected.

    1. I agree that public elected service should be lower paid than the private sector — most of us are there for the right reasons, patriotism, not greed. And legislators do get health care and pension eligibility at the same level as the lower tier state employees (lower than police and fire). But the question to consider is, adding that up, are enough people able to afford to serve: Are state ballots adequately competitive?

  13. Interesting reading/reviewing of the +/-91 page document and the firms used to research this data. Comparing private versus public is similar in ways to private versus public education/schools at all levels. There are allowances these positions are granted. Yes I agree with email reading pros and cons to the pay raises including how many others have a cost of living raise. Again I do not think it should be comparison as an overriding decision factor rather the quality of the work. I think the increases are well earned. Recently an executive in the private sector was asked what keeps him awake at night. I was sharing this with non-business folks and said this is often business meeting content/rhetoric. In a nutshell I think the positions involve many hours of thinking and support the raises.

  14. your perspective is much appreciated
    (as always). Given these facts and observations, I fully support the proposed increases, with the caveats thaT all other staff/support be paid a living wage, and that the top positions be term-limited.

  15. I am absolutely shocked that those we have elected to represent us are paid so poorly. Were these corporate executives with a small percent of the responsibility they’d be paid far greater, have stock options, cars, and grand expense accounts. How on Earth do we get good people to run when making secretary wages. Yes! Please! Accept my endorsement for raises and apologies that you have made so little for so long for the incredible work you do!
    Anne

  16. Will, this is probably an exceptionally good time to say Thank You! for your long service to Belmont and our Commonwealth.

    Like others who have responded to your question, I’m shocked at how low your salary is. I am all for increasing the compensation for legislators, and will take your word for the compensation due to the Senate President and Speaker.

    The only proposal that gives me pause is the increase for the Governor. In my mind, there’s something about going over $200,000 that makes me uneasy.

    Can the proposal be amended? Or do you have to just vote to approve or disapprove of the proposed increases?

  17. First, I appreciate you asking for opinions on this topic the same as you do any others.
    I do not believe the state legislature needs a pay raise. They make more money than most people I know and while I believe they work hard they do not work harder than the average person who makes far less than they do. In the midst of budget difficulties this is not the time for people who already make a lot of money to give themselves more. Take the amount this pay raise would cost and ask any school principal what s/he could do with that money in their school. Thank you.

    1. I think comparisons are sort of irrelevant. The question is whether we are getting the candidates we need. But, it is a safe bet that almost every school principal in the state makes much more than every legislator in the state.

  18. I am in full agreement with pay raises for legislators as you describe them. You are all public servants, and we owe you a debt of gratitude, as well as much more compensation than your current salaries!

  19. If legislators worked full time and held session for a full year. Than they deserve the raise. But the session is not for a full year. Bills are held to the last minute. The system needs improvement and represent the people more in my opinion

  20. Thanks so much, Senator, for this typically upfront, honest assessment. My own reactions: 1) the base pay is surprisingly low, and modest even with stipends. But with budget cuts in some valuable services, I would encourage the legislature (and governor) to tap more of the state’s vast private wealth so that pay increases don’t come at the expense of other needs. Support for next year’s ‘millionaire tax’ amendment and/or other revenue increases should be part of every legislator’s support for these increases. 2) You’re clearly right about leadership roles and private sector equivalence (or lack thereof). I would suggest a graduated approach to those increases though, as the sticker shock for these increases is considerable for this voter, even while I agree with the rationales.

    Hope that helps–and good luck with this hot potato!

    Brent Whelan

    1. Thanks, Brent. We’ll consider how to control the sticker shock. One point — these pay increases will not involve any new appropriations this year, although they will affect budgetary base in the next year.

  21. When the state is in the black then it would be the time to think of pay raises.
    Pensions for officials is way out of line with the real world. IE Billy Bulger getting over $325,000 as a pension

  22. The amount of increase, whether deserved or not, seems slightly obscene.

    At any rate, thank you for your hard work.
    –David Levitt

  23. I am totally opposed to this proposed pay raise. If anything, there should be no additional pay for committee chairs, the speaker, etc.

  24. I think the Governor’s proposed salary of $250,000 is a little high considering the perks of the office–housing, transportation, plus increasingly these career politicians/public servants have healthy portfolios by the time they reach the highest offices in the state. I don’t think the governor is worth so much more than other top legislators for whom you are proposing $175,000. S/he’s the Governor, not the Ruler! I think $200,000 is more than enough of a raise. Thank you.

  25. I am fine with the raises for all the reasons that you state, but the pension implications are worrisome. Make provisions for limiting the payout for these positions – tie them to current salaries, which will still result in generous retirement benefits.

  26. Public service is an under-appreciated and generally underpaid profession. I appreciate your informative letter as well as your upfront acknowledgement of support of raises for the tier of leaders you reference.

    I also appreciate that you listed your own income from your public service…and yes, i know that it is below what you’re worth at ‘market rates’.

    Your emails re ongoing legislative matters demonstrate your effort to make government transparent and gives me a chance to weigh with more insight than I’ve ever had before.

    In order to be good at this and not ground down with the demands of the job, you have to have an appetite for public service and find your rewards for it where you may. I believe that you understand that.

    This is not a 40 hour 9 to 5 kind of job. it’s time consuming and way more demanding that people think.

    I recommend you support the legislative pay increase and hope you stay with us for a long time.

  27. I support the rank-and-file raises. I am troubled by the huge hike to the Senate Pres and the Speaker The pension cost of the Speaker’s high-3 will be huge. I suppose it’s a fair salary but it’s another example why governors and leadership should stop playing games. Speaking of games–I thought legislators could vote for increases effective in their then-current term. How is that being managed? You will get no quibble from me if you vote for the package, but it’s crazy it comes to this.

  28. Hi Will,
    Amazing march today!!
    The actual dollar increases seem reasonable, It is however not appropriate or reasonable to use now bloated private sector salaries as a benchmark for public service positions. My concern and question are – what will we have to defund to in order to fund these pay increases? Would appreciate your feedback on the likely particulars. Thanks, Tedd

    1. Thanks, Tedd. Agreed — only point in the private sector comparison is to make clear that the difference will remain huge after the increases. Nothing else defunded. A very slight increase in future year pressures (0.01%). Regarding pensions, the legislature participates in the state pension plan on substantially the same terms as other non-public-safety public employees. For much more about the state pension system, please visit this link.

  29. I appreciate how uncomfortable you may feel recommending a pay raise for folks that include yourself, but please don’t hesitate. The amount of the raise is negligible relative to the overall scheme of things in the state budget, and I think you in particular well deserve it.

  30. The make up of the commission that made these recommendations is impressive. All of the increases sound reasonable, except for the huge one for the gover-nor, plus a housing allowance. Compar-ing it with the private sector, where so many executives are over paid, does not seem appropriate. The increases to all legislators are justifiable. I have always admired your diligence as our senator while receiving such a modest salary. So I think you certainly de-serve an increase.

  31. It would be interesting to compare the experience of NH legislators whose
    compensation is I believe extremely minimal (not a livable wage) compared to those from MA.

    1. Daniel, nothing wrong with comparisons to get more data. That said, not sure if it’s a viable comparison as the size of the NH legislature is significantly larger than the Massachusetts legislator, therefore each representative holds less power and represents a smaller % of the population. That setup is probably a whole ‘nother rabbit hole for a discussion to go into.

  32. I am glad to hear that acting on the commission’s report was postponed from the start of the 2015-2016 session when state had deep budget cuts to the present time. It’s also nice to hear that the commission included two from academia as well two from the private sector. In addition it is good to see that constituents’ thoughts about this topic is sought.

    After looking at the appendix of the commission’s report that compares the salaries of the legislature and state constitutional officers with those of comparable positions in the private sector, I support the increases recommended by the commission. My only concern is with the statutory per diem payment for each day legislators travel to the state house.

    To be more specific, I am concerned that abolishing the per diem concept in exchange for an increase in the expense allowance could result in a net decrease for the most distant legislators. Can legislators who commute over a certain number of miles be given the choice of either keeping the per diem concept or instead an increase in the expense allowance?

    Even a slight net decrease for legislators travelling among the greatest distances does not seem logical. I wonder what the commission would have to say regarding this?

    1. Thanks, Donna, I think we do have to get rid of the per diem outright. I’m pretty sure no one is being asked to take a big cut, although I don’t know how it works for all the House members. The point is that the increase is limited.

  33. Hi Will,
    I support the increases that were proposed.
    Over the years, I have come to know and respect the workload of those in office.
    Many are not aware that these are 24/7 jobs.
    I hope they are approved.
    I might add that you are one of the glaring good examples of a very fine legislator!
    John Airasian

  34. I support pay raises for good work. But you have to understand, I am disabled and struggling to live on 849.39 per month on SSI. We received a 2.00 raise this January of 2017. Two dollars a MONTH!
    It would be easier to support pay raises for them if THEY supported a raise for the POOR. The US poverty level is 27,000.year. We suffer on less than 11,000. year. It’s immoral!

  35. I concur with the December 1, 2014 report. If one is going to serve in any of these Massachusetts elected offices,
    he/she deserves a living wage.

  36. I support the increase, and here’s why:

    I worked for 3 months at a bureau at DPH in 2012. I had to quit because it was a hostile work environment. I learned that for the previous 2 years, it had been run by some completely incompetent people.

    The reason was that the salary for running this bureau was about the salary you quoted – about $74,000. It really needed to be double that to attract people with experience.

    These incompetent leaders devastated this bureau by all accounts. The bad leaders eventually left, but it will be impossible to bring back this historical bureau to the high-functioning level it was. The people there are all PTSD after these leaders’ horrible actions for years.

    In order to attract competent people to do such a strenuous leadership job, we really need to have leadership salaries that at least try to keep pace with the low end of the private sector, or we risk destroying our government.

    Thanks for asking our opinion!

    -Monika

  37. I want my elected representatives to commit fully to this job and receive a fair wage so they don’t have to work a second job. I want this for all the citizens of Massachusetts. If you support these pay raises I hope you will be open and fervent (and not ambivalent!) about supporting living wage, child care, commuter transportation, and employer-supported leave. I will support your pay raise.

    1. Thanks, Priscilla, I am supportive of all of these things, but I don’t want to suggest a trade on this. It’s not about my raise. If it were just me, I’d avoid the headache of explaining and just say no. It is a larger question of the compensation structure of the institution.

  38. I would support these increases for most of the rank and file, but I do question the need for such a large pay increase for the governor. I am also uncomfortable going over $200K for that position, which is not one where pay scale is the primary draw in seeking candidates. The highest governor’s salary in 2016 was $190,823 (Pennsylvania). If we are also providing a housing allowance for the governor, I question the salary increase.

    1. To make it clear, the $250,000 is:

      185,000 salary + 65,000 housing allowance.

      There is not a housing allowance on top of the salary.

  39. I suggest that this be put to the people of the commonwealth in a ballot initiative for 2018. It doesn’t seem fit to vote for your own pay increase.

    This would give the people the opportunity to reflect on how the ballot initiative we passed this November (Question #4) was passed, then delayed by our representatives, and now is being actively watered down to the point of being an insult to the people’s will.

    I think we will remember how our will was respected and then give your pay increase ballot initiative equal respect.

  40. I support the pay raises because I feel it keeps the best qualified able to serve in government.

  41. Two points Will

    1. Seems like there is already in place a mechanism to keep legislative pay equitable. Why change now?

    2. If pay levels are uncompetitive then we should see the data – and we should see total Comp data meaning benefits and pension etc. Public companies are required to show this type of information info when asking shareholders to approve changes in pay why don’t legislators?

    1. That’s the problem there really isn’t a good mechanism, Tom. The legislative leadership stipends haven’t been updated since 1982. The package would bring them into line and then create a mechanism for adjusting them.

      You are quite right that there are other compensation elements, but they are, in major respects, those that are provided to all clerical state employees. These benefits are well documented on this website and on official sites.

  42. I would support an even larger rise in the “Expense Allowance”, with a catch. Charge market rate for parking at the State House. This who choose to drive will have their parking fee paid by my “even larger” rise in the Expense Allowance. But legislators who – like Gov Mike Dukakis – take the (T) to work won’t be paying to park, and can pocket the net savings.

    This is fair and equitable. It’s how other people get to work. Some people have no reasonable choice except to drive – and that’s why I propose something cost neutral. Others have a choice, but won’t be motivated to truly evaluate that choice without the proper price signals.

    As we try to slow global warming caused by greenhouse gases, it’s important to note that the largest CO2 emitter in MA is the transportation sector, and single occupancy car commuters are a big contributor to this. Simultaneously, our public transit is chronically unfunded. Perhaps if more state legislators took the (T) there would be better decisions made about it’s funding.

    Thanks for your hard work representing us.

  43. Will,
    I believe these salary increases are essential if we wish to attract & retain sophisticated, dedicated public sector professionals who are interested in the governance of this complex State. Since there has been a careful review by the Commission I fully support the pay increase. Your work on our behalf has been exemplary & a pay raise is how the people aim to retain legislators such as you !

  44. There is no question in my mind that supporting this measure is the right thing to do. Thanks for setting a good example of commitment to public service. Finding satisfaction in life beats chasing money once you have enough to have an adequate life style. I guess everyone’s idea of adequate is different, but I can respect yours.

  45. It behooves me to wonder why any legislator would want to ‘serve-the public’, if they feel that they are under-paid. First, why does it matter what other states are doing? Second, there are indeed many people, the majority of people who are working from paycheck to paycheck. Just because the prices are always increasing for goods and services, doesn’t get us a ‘pay-raise’ at work. Third, if any legislator can’t get ‘by-on-what-they-make’ now, then resign and get a job at some company willing to pay what you want to be paid. And finally, from the earliest of times, legislators are ‘public servants’. They are to make the lives of the public better, not worse. Ever wonder where the money comes from for these increases? Yup, from the public in the form of higher taxes. I always had the notion that a legislator wanted to be of service to the public and not to be elected to public office to get ‘richer’ and further their political career. This is a thought for all legislators to think about. Thanks for your consideration in this matter.

    1. All these points are well taken. Very few, if any, legislators run for office to improve their income. My impression from many conversations through the years is that legislators seek office for the right reasons. The question is whether we are getting enough people to take the plunge and to stay the course long enough to learn the job.

  46. I am opposed to another pay raise particularly given that the legislators received a COLA pay adjustment just this month. I find it extremely unfair to divert tax money from programs to help those in dire need (which is what this would necessarily do) to adequately paid people.

  47. I would only vote yes on this if there was change
    In state tax from a flat tax to a percentage tax to where the wealthiest pay the highest percentage
    Lower pay 5%
    Middle pay 7%
    Upper pay 9 %
    Regards

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