and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Latest Legislative Payraise

For Immediate Release

Of course it’s outrageous: but so what?

CLT wasn’t going to comment on the legislative payraise because there is nothing we, you, or anybody else can do about it. Voters foolishly voted in 1998 for a constitutional amendment to create these automatic raises; this can never be changed, just pay it and get over it.

But you should be aware:

The ballot question was not an initiative petition. It was placed on the ballot as a legislative amendment. The campaign was led by Tom Finneran, then Speaker of the House, who sold it as a way to stop the Legislature from voting for its own payraises. There was no attention paid to the REASON that the Legislature wouldn’t vote for its own payraise: that legislators would become the only people in the history of the world to get constitutionally-guaranteed payraises.

Despite CLT’s best efforts – we paid for radio ads which opposed it on the ballot – the voters were hoodwinked. Most of the media didn’t cover the issue because it was a Finneran initiative and most of the media was still hoodwinked by him. Voters didn’t carefully read the red voter information booklet.

BTW, there is no reason for legislators not to take it: they will be re-elected no matter what they do. Giving it to local charities is nice, but also worth the local publicity that helps make that re-election even easier. Also, keeping the increase but donating it to charity still increases the salary base toward legislators’ pensions.

Despite what House Speaker DiMasi is saying, the pay will never go down. A future computation may require a cut in the base pay (The MetroWest Daily News, Dec. 31, 2000 - "Legislature seeks pay hike loophole"), but the legislative leadership will simply create new positions that give bonus pay (CLT Update, Jul. 2, 2003 - "Finneran Power-Grab teetering at the precipice"), so that the actual paychecks won’t drop.

More legislative payraise shenanigans history

The below legislative actions came after the Legislature achieved its constitutionally-mandated automatic payraises foolishly approved by the voters on the 1998 ballot -- the ballot question that promised to prevent legislators from ever voting themselves another pay grab.

CLT Update
January 1, 2001
Greed again stalks empty Statehouse corridors --> 
The MetroWest Daily News
Dec. 31, 2000
Legislature seeks pay hike loophole
By David Caruso

CLT Update
July 2, 2003
Finneran Power-Grab teetering at the precipice -->
The Boston Herald
Jul. 2, 2003
Foes of speaker's pay-raise bill promise lawsuit
by Elisabeth J. Beardsley
     House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's controversial pay raise bill is headed for a court battle if the House boss succeeds in pushing it past Gov. Mitt Romney's veto, opponents said yesterday....
     If the speaker musters a two-thirds vote to override the veto, Citizens for Limited Taxation said it's ready with a lawsuit. "The constitution is a sacred document," said CLT chief Barbara Anderson. "This definitely has to be stopped." 

CLT Update
July 18, 2003
Democracy won; Finneran zero  --> 
The Boston Globe
Jul. 18, 2003
Finneran reluctantly postpones action on pay hike measure
By Rick Klein
     Acknowledging that he'd created a "distraction" that's taken away from important business facing the state, House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran yesterday put off until 2005 his bid to grant pay raises to his lieutenants, effectively killing the measure for the foreseeable future. 

CLT Update
January 28, 2007
"We're better than this" bribery is better than what? --> 
The Boston Globe
Jan. 28, 2007
Governor weighing deal on pay hikes
Lawmakers' raises tied to support, sources say
By Frank Phillips
     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....

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