Outrageous pay raises for politicians passed with little discussion and tied to an emergency preamble so they can pocket the cash as quick as possible. A rushed rules debate that resulting in meaningless reform, and less transparency. Two months in, and 2017 looks like monkey business as usual on Beacon Hill.
And yet, thanks to your help, we've had victories for better, more efficient government. Two years ago, this month, the misguided and antiquated Pacheco Law hampered progress at the MBTA. The Pacheco Law, you might remember, is the toughest anti-privatization law in the country. It caused years of missed opportunities, inflated costs, and mismanagement. The result? Record level snow resulted in an epic failure at the MBTA.
Silly antics from the head of the MBTA union almost derailed reform, but though an outpouring of advocacy from riders, taxpayers, and reform minded elected officials, the union boss's antics were ignored.
With the first major storm since the winter of 2015 behind us and another on its way, the MassFiscal team joins the chorus of kudos for the MBTA's performance. MassFiscal is proud of the role we played in ensuring important reforms were passed and enacted. Today, we have better, more reliable public transportation because of those reforms.
Press Release: House Lawmakers Say Yes to Pay Hikes, Selfies Likely Next Meaningful Rules Reform Still Pending
(BOSTON)—Today, the House voted to override the Governor’s veto on a fat pay raise package for lawmakers, members of the judiciary, and other politicians. The Senate is expected to override the Governor’s veto as well.
The big winners in the pay package are the House Speaker Robert DeLeo and most likely Senate President Stan Rosenberg, each of whom will receive a 50 percent raise. The bill includes an emergency preamble to ensure the cash hits bank accounts as soon as possible.
Lawmakers are also taking up votes on the rules for conducting the upcoming two-year legislative session. While members submitted a number of simple reforms to increase accountability, House leadership is expected to put forward rules which allow lawmakers to take selfies freely in the House chamber. The public, however, remain prohibited from taking pictures.
"It's a shame that legislative leaders like Rosenberg and DeLeo don’t share the same enthusiasm for reforming the rules as they do for pay raises and personal enrichment,” Paul Craney, executive director of MassFiscal, said, “The national political scene provides cover on Beacon Hill. The public's attention is focused elsewhere, and these practiced politicians want you to think they have your back but instead they have a knife in your back."
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance advocates for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increased economic opportunity for the people of our Commonwealth.
House Roll Call vote
Senate Roll Call Vote
Today the House passed whopping pay increases for themselves and other elected officeholders and members of the judiciary. Both the Senate President and the House Speaker are big winners in this bill, with their salaries increasing by more than half.
In addition, the measure eliminates per diem travel allowances. Instead, lawmakers who live more than 50 miles from the Statehouse will receive an additional $20,000 and lawmakers who live closer would receive $15,000 for travel and general office expenses. Eliminating per diems, means their reporting requirements would be included. Per diem reports are frequent fodder for candidates challenging incumbents, as padding the reports isn't uncommon among unscrupulous lawmakers. The measure also provides for automatic increases in the salaries every other year.
The Senate is expected to take up the pay increases tomorrow.
Legislative watchers say the pay raise is being rushed through right at the start of a new session to allow the voters plenty of time to forget the vote before elections.
Lest you think the rush to raise salaries means we've solved the state's fiscal woes, know that legislative leaders continue to push for Prop 80, a new graduated income tax rate scheme that will increase taxes by 80 percent for the state's top earners.
MassFiscal opposes both the pay raise and Prop. 80. To check on how your legislator voted, see below.