Limited Taxation & Government
Post Office Box 408    Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (617) 248-0022
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CLT&G Update
Friday, October 2, 1998

October 1, 1998

Contact: Chip Ford (978) 538-3900, or
                Barbara Anderson (617) 248-0022

CLT&G Informs Public About Question One

The Massachusetts Legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. If passed by the voters, it will set the present base pay of legislators in the state constitution, and will guarantee that the pay will be adjusted every other year into the future.

That adjustment would reflect the increase or decrease in the commonwealth's median household income for the preceding two-year period, which theoretically could rise or fall. However, according to U.S. Dept. of Commerce data that CLT compiled after the Legislature voted itself a 55% pay hike in 1994, median household income decreased only once between 1984 and 1994.

For all intent and purpose, Question 1 guarantees regular legislative pay-raises. Massachusetts legislators would be, to the best of our knowledge, the only human beings in the history of the world to get constitutionally-guaranteed salaries and pay-raises.

Yes, right up there with freedom of speech, religion, the press; as important as the right to trial by jury and right to peaceably assemble -- the right of politicians to a pay-raise.

The Founding Fathers may have overlooked the right of women to vote and slaves to be free, but how on earth could they have overlooked guaranteed pay-raises for legislators?

Even with the requisite tens of thousands of signatures, citizens cannot get proposed constitutional amendments onto the ballot without the support of 25% of the Legislature. The Massachusetts Legislature, which has refused to allow constitutional amendments for tax limitation and term limits to reach the ballot, has enthusiastically embraced a constitutional amendment for its own financial self-interest.

This same Legislature will never allow a 25% vote to place repeal of this amendment or a legislative pay cut on a future ballot. If Question 1 passes, it will be embedded in the Massachusetts constitution forever and no matter how much legislators might misbehave and anger the voters, it will never be possible to reduce their pay.

Question 1 deals only with base pay. Nothing will prevent legislative leaders from giving bonus pay to themselves and their favored, loyal legislative friends, on top of the constitutionally-guaranteed base pay and automatic pay-raises.

Legislators, who work for the people, should not be given a constitutional privilege that is not available to their employers.

A "No" vote will guarantee that the legislative class will not be treated differently than the citizens who pay their salaries, who will never see a constitutionally-guaranteed pay-raise for themselves.


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