Chip Ford's CLT Commentary
I had other plans for today than writing this update.
But this news was too much to let pass without comment.
Governor Deval Patrick is now attempting to entice
members of the
Legislature to climb aboard the "Together We Can" train.
Remember back in 1998, when the voters foolishly
adopted a legislative amendment to the state Constitution, allegedly to
prevent pols from ever raising their salaries again -- or so the voters
thought? What voters enshrined in the Constitution forever was the
only guaranteed automatic legislative pay-raise in the world.
Despite CLT's best efforts (limited by funds), voters bought into the
promise: "This proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit
the state Legislature from changing the base compensation received by
members of the Legislature as of January 1, 1996." Oh were
they wrong, as we'd predicted.
It passed by a vote of 1,170,031 to 538,729 (226,517
blanks) -- and that was supposed to be the end of the Legislature's
intermittent feeding frenzy. No more "midnight pay raises,"
no more "55% pay hikes," remember? The base pay for a legislator
now is about $59,000 a year. But, More Is Never Enough (MORE)!
Oh were they wrong, as we'd predicted.
fought it and lost. So be it. It is now enshrined in the
state Constitution after a fair -- well not quite with our limited
resources -- fight.
Remember when House Speaker Thomas Finneran (now an
admitted felon) attempted to boost his lackeys' pay? There was a
firestorm, a public display of outrage. [See: CLT UPDATE, Jul 2, 2003,
Power-Grab teetering at the precipice" and "What goes around comes
around" of Jul. 3.]
Oh were they wrong, as we'd predicted.
Now the governor is paying off
legislators to swing his way -- or attempting to?!? We used to
call this bribery.
This is "Together We Can"? This is a government
responsive to the citizens?
Oh my god, are we in trouble already.
The Boston Globe
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Governor weighing deal on pay hikes
Lawmakers' raises tied to support, sources say
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick, in a significant departure from former governor
Mitt Romney, is contemplating a deal with Democratic legislative leaders
that would grant significant pay raises to their top lieutenants in
return for their support in implementing his plans for sweeping
government changes, according to sources involved in the discussions.
No agreement has been struck, but in behind-the-scenes conversations,
sources said, Patrick has signaled that he may be willing to take the
inevitable public criticism about the pay raises, but he wants
significant payback: broad cooperation on his proposals to overhaul the
state's quasi-public authorities and boards.
House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, the driving force in the Legislature
for pay raises, has not been persuaded that that is a fair deal, sources
say. The pay raises would cost about $40,000 for each branch, while
Patrick is asking for a far more expansive and complex change in
government operations and philosophy.
"That's a quid pro quo?" asked one lawmaker who is aware of the proposed
Patrick, on the other hand, is facing the potential political
consequences of granting a legislative pay hike, an issue that often
creates a public furor and can politically damage a governor --
especially at a time when the state is facing a budget deficit of more
than $1 billion.
The negotiations provide a glimpse into the evolving relationship
between legislative leaders and the new Democratic governor. One
consequence that Patrick's advisers must consider is whether such a deal
would fan public fears that one-party rule on Beacon Hill -- after 16
years of Republican leadership in the corner office -- could lead to
The discussions also provide the first hint of how Patrick, a political
newcomer, will try to negotiate in pursuit of legislative victories.
Patrick has demonstrated a more engaged style than Romney, who rarely
lobbied lawmakers to support his agenda.
During his first weeks in office, it has not been unusual to see Patrick
roam the State House corridors, popping into legislative offices, even,
as he did several weeks ago, at one point dropping unannounced into a
Republican leader's office.
For now, Patrick and legislative leaders are at an impasse.
"They need to work it out," said one source, who asked to remain
anonymous because negotiations are ongoing. "The governor is not going
to roll. He feels he is going to take the heat for it, so he wants
something for it." The source noted that Patrick took a political risk
when he restored $383 million in emergency budget cuts that Romney made
in his final days in office.
Lawmakers who lead committees or serve as top deputies to the House
speaker and Senate president are paid $7,500 to $15,000 on top of their
annual salaries of $55,569. The leaders of the two Ways and Means
committees receive an additional $25,000.
The deal under negotiation would allow DiMasi and Senate President
Robert E. Travaglini to beef up the stipends and give them to more
lawmakers, according to sources. In so doing, they can expand their
influence, creating a stronger band of loyalists.
The leaders argue that the stipends are the same as they were three
decades ago -- when the legislative base salary was not much more than
$20,000 a year. It is only right, they said, that those doing much of
the committee's work are adequately compensated
"These committee chairs work very hard on very important and complicated
issues," said one legislator who is aware of the effort.
An aide to DiMasi said the speaker will announce his committee
assignments for the 2007-2008 legislative session tomorrow and that they
would not include extra pay for leadership posts.
"There are absolutely no plans to increase stipends for chairmen," said
Kimberly Haberlin, DiMasi's spokeswoman.
Aides to Travaglini and Patrick did not respond to requests for comment.
In a 2003 standoff with lawmakers, Romney used his veto powers to block
an effort by then-House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran to pass a bill that
would have stripped the governor of his role in approving the
legislative salary perks. After a prolonged political battle between the
new Republican governor and the powerful Democrat, the Legislature could
not muster the needed two-thirds majority to override his veto.
Romney ultimately approved a bill that gave bonuses to top lawmakers,
while retaining the right for the executive branch to review future
Much is at stake for Patrick, who needs the cooperation of the
Legislature to approve plans to streamline some of the quasi-public
authorities and independent boards that control -- and often conflict --
with the policies that governors want to put in place. Patrick is said
to be focused on education, transportation, and economic development. He
has not released the details of his proposal.
On the target list are such high-profile agencies as the Massachusetts
Turnpike Authority, the MBTA's governing board of directors, the various
boards that oversee the state's education policies, and the authorities
that control and finance economic development projects for the state.
Patrick is not expected to include the Massachusetts Port Authority on
his initial list.
In his first full day in office this month, Patrick told reporters that
control of the state's independent agencies would be key to creating an
effective and streamlined administration. He said he needed the control
in order to be able drive his agenda.
Like past governors, Patrick would have to wait until the end of his
term before his appointees capture a majority on the boards that control
the agencies, which operate some of the most important projects and
operations in Massachusetts. The agencies are now controlled by Romney
Patrick's attempts to gain control of the authorities would run counter
to the long standing legislative rationale for creating the independent
authorities: that it insulates them from the state budget process and
the volatility of state politics.
Patrick would need the strong backing of DiMasi and Travaglini if he
hopes to accomplish his goal. A takeover would require complex
legislation for each agency, requiring the governor and his legislative
allies to work closely to keep a tight rein on the process.
Bondholders, along with many companies that deal with the agencies, may
raise concerns over the upheaval that would ensue.
The Boston Globe
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Romney OK's pay increases for lawmakers
By David Abel, Globe Staff
On his last day in office, Governor Mitt Romney yesterday approved pay
raises for state lawmakers.
The governor's aides had told the Globe that Romney would withhold his
approval for the cost-of-living increases unless lawmakers voted on a
proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. On Tuesday,
62 lawmakers voted to advance the constitutional amendment for possible
placement on the 2008 state ballot.
The state's 200 House and Senate members were entitled to an automatic
raise on Jan. 1, but the governor issues final approval.
Romney notified state Treasurer Timothy Cahill in a letter yesterday
that the median household income rose 4.8 percent over the past two
Romney aides could not be reached yesterday. A spokesman for House
Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said she was not aware of Romney's decision.
Aides for Senate President Robert E. Travaglini did not return calls.
The lawmakers are entitled to a pay raise every two years under a
constitutional amendment that voters approved in 1998. The raise in 2004
amounted to 4.1 percent, increasing lawmakers' base pay to $55,570.
Romney administration officials estimated the new raise could reach 7
percent over the next two years, increasing lawmakers base pay to
between $58,349 and $59,460.
Raises for legislators are linked to changes in average incomes in
Massachusetts, but it is up to the governor to decide the exact amount.
All state senators and many House members receive stipends from $7,500
to $15,000 for committee chairmanships and other leadership positions.
The Boston Herald
Sunday, January 28, 2007
From the ‘eeww’ file
By Dave Wedge/ Pols and Politics
It’s no secret Gov. Deval Patrick’s historic gallop to victory was
largely fueled by union backing.
And now the unions are apparently getting some bang for their buck.
Several taxpayer-funded union jobs that former Gov. Romney tried to kill
as part of a $400 million budget cut were swiftly restored by Patrick,
along with all the other spending.
Among the items Romney tried to cut were: $195,000 for three “full-time
labor specialists” and $135,000 for “incumbent worker coordinators.”
Both items specify that the jobs are for AFL-CIO employees.
Sometimes it pays to back the right horse . . .
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