Wednesday, April 12, 2000
Sows at the public trough
Legislators are seeking to line their own pockets
at our expense
On any given morning, Interstate 93 is
packed with people from the Merrimack Valley driving to their jobs in Boston.
Most of them are not being paid for the
miles they drive to get to work -- most, that is, except for state legislators.
You see, in the real world that you and
we inhabit, getting to work is our own responsibility.
But state legislators from the Valley and
the rest of the state see things differently. They feel getting them to work is the
responsibility of the taxpayers of Massachusetts.
Legislators get a "per diem"
travel allowance for their commutes to Boston that varies with the distance they live from
the Statehouse. Legislators from Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill get $13 a day. Those from
towns closer to Boston like Andover and North Reading -- get $9 a day.
But that's no longer enough.
There is a provision in the state budget
currently working its way through the House to double the per diem travel reimbursements.
The proposal also includes a doubling --
to $7,200 a year -- of the money legislators receive to run their offices and provide
"constituent service." That's a fancy term for the slush fund legislators use to
be seen as great guys or gals. When you or we feel a need to donate to a charitable cause,
we make sacrifices and take the money from our personal funds. Not so legislators. They
get to be generous by handing out public money to their favorite causes.
And there's also a plan to give
"key" Beacon Hill legislators an extra $7,500 a year in pay in addition to their
base salaries of $46,410 and the $7,500 bonuses received by committee chairmen.
All this is on top of the automatic pay
raises legislators voted themselves last year.
These latest outrages come as legislators
are telling us common folk we have to tighten our belts because of cost overruns at the
Big Dig. "Lifetime" driver's licenses and auto registration are gone and there's
just no money to reduce the state income tax to its "permanent" level of 5
percent, they say.
Legislators say their increases are
necessary because a new campaign finance law passed by voters limits their ability to
spend and raise money.
If public service is too much of a
sacrifice for these money-grubbers, let them find gainful employment in the private
We've had enough of them lining their own
pockets at our expense.