Pay Raise Vote Means Big Bucks for Legislators

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, MassFiscal obtained the paycheck records for lawmakers before and after the legislative pay raise vote. We compared the bi-weekly records of all 200 lawmakers. 

We're publishing it on our website for two reasons. First, we believe that the transparency on how the government spends our tax dollars is crucial. Only the professional politicians win when information like this is kept secret. Second, the slippery stories legislators are telling about this vote are outrageous. We think people deserve the truth.

A few highlights: The biggest boosts came in the Senate, with some members earning more than 100% in paychecks compared to before the pay raise vote. The average paycheck for lawmakers is 37% but the Senate bump was higher, at 65%.

Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), the highest earner in either chamber, saw a 145% percent bump. Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), who heads the Ethics Committee, will receive an additional $3,254.55 per paycheck this year over what she earned before the vote. Creem's 121% percent increase is a smidge less increase, than Senator Mark Montigny’s 128% or an additional $3,446.86 per paycheck, post "emergency" pay raise legislation.

The big winner in the House is Rep. Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy), who was granted the largest percentage increase (108% percent) in the lower chamber, boosting his paycheck to $5,591.32 from $2682.62. The legislation's author in the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop), increased his annual pay by $55,315 or about ten percent more than the average salary of a firefighter in his home town.  

The list is interesting reading. See for yourself, by clicking through on the links below.

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Per Diems Are Back

This morning, the Boston Herald uncovered a new layer of the Pay Raise saga: thirty-seven lawmakers who voted for the pay raise and received $15,000 - $20,000 in travel expenses are still receiving back pay in Per Diems.

Previously, lawmakers could claim back pay on travel expenses in the form of Per Diems. Some opted out while others claimed thousand in reimbursements. Following the pay raise, lawmakers did away with the Per Diem process in favor of lump sum expense accounts that now count towards their pensions. However, due to a little known rule that allows lawmakers to retroactively readjust Per Diems, legislators are continuing to bring in more money. 

This developing story comes after Beacon Hill leadership declined, for a second consecutive year, to establish a sales tax-free weekend.

See the list of lawmakers who have claimed Per Diems after voting for the pay raise below. Read the Boston Herald story here

 

Chamber

Rep Name

Per Diem

Travel Expense

Salary

House

Aaron Vega

$990

$20,000

$87,747.97

House

Christine Barber

$340

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

Chynah Tyler

$180

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

Dylan Fernandes

$500

$20,000

$82,547.97

House

Evandro Carvalho

$2,060

$15,000

$82,747.97

House

Frank Smizik

$240

$15,000

$92,547.97

House

Gerard Cassidy

$126

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

James O'Day

$3,456

$20,000

$97,547.97

House

Jay Kaufman

$1,674

$20,000

$107,547.97

House

Jerald Parisella

$72

$15,000

$92,547.97

House

John Christopher Walsh

$1,188

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

John Scibak

$240

$20,000

$97,547.97

House

Jose Tosado

$1,560

$20,000

$82,547.97

House

Juana Matias

$442

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

Kay Khan

$250

$15,000

$92,547.97

House

Kevin Honan

$1,780

$15,000

$92,547.97

House

Lori A. Ehrlich

$3,528

$15,000

$92,547.00

House

Michael Moran

$1,680

$15,000

$92,547.97

House

Patricia Farley-Bouvier

$810

$20,000

$87,747.97

House

Paul J. Donato

$380

$15,000

$112,547.97

House

Paul Mark

$2,340

$20,000

$97,547.97

House

Robert Koczera

$540

$20,000

$87,747.97

House

Russel Holmes

$380

$15,000

$82,747.00

House

Sarah Peake

$962

$20,000

$87,747.97

House

Sean Garballey

$820

$15,000

$82,747.00

House

Stephan Hay

$2,556

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

Stephen Kulik

$1,110

$20,000

$112,547.97

House

Theodore Speliotis

$198

$15,000

$107,547.97

House

William Pignatelli

$810

$20,000

$97,547.97

House

Mary Keefe

$540

$15,000

$77,547.97

House

Peter Kocot

$396

$20,000

$112,547.97

House

Joseph Wagner

$7,440

$20,000

$112,547.97

Senate

Adam Hinds

$540

$20,000

$102,747.97

Senate

Harriette Chandler

$252

$20,000

$157,547.97

Senate

Marc Pacheco

$3,816

$15,000

$142,547.97

Senate

Michael Rodrigues

$1,980

$20,000

$132,547.97

Senate

Stanley Rosenberg

$600

$20,000

$162,547.97


End of Session Recap

The Legislature recently broke for the summer after speeding through the FY18 budget, leaving some important items undone among the wreckage of pay raises, pet projects, and tax hike plans.

The massive 40 percent legislative pay hike remains the big story from Beacon Hill this year. Even dodging their responsibility to reform MassHealth can't compete, but I'll get back to that story in a minute.  

Let me tell you why the pay grab is still timely, even now. The total price tag on the package is estimated at $18 million dollars. Funny enough, that's the same amount lawmakers claimed state coffers needed desperately when they eliminated the traditional sales-tax-free weekend. Which would traditionally occur right about now.

So Massachusetts retailers are going to miss out on a Dog Days boost in sales. And Massachusetts consumers have no added incentive to make a significant purchase. Everyone loses.

Except the Legislators. They got theirs. 

Back to MassHealth, the state-sponsored health care plan that gobbles up a whopping 40 percent of the state budget. Governor Baker's reforms, aimed at controlling the budget buster, were tabled for another day, although the legislature managed to levy a hefty new tax on business owners to feed the monstrous mess.

The Beacon Hill game also managed to fit in another vote advancing Prop80. Prop80, a proposed constitutionally amendment creating a graduated income tax, would raise taxes on the state's top producers by 80 percent. 

Many Legislators are headed back to their districts to face questions on the pay grab. MassFiscal's education campaign has mailed to more than 390,000 people. Many of those people were shocked to learn that their Representative or Senator, or both, put their own bank accounts and retirement portfolios ahead of the important business of the Commonwealth. 

Accountability is important. And without MassFiscal advocacy spreading the word on the Legislature's questionable priorities, our elected officials wouldn't have to answer for their choices. With more than 390,000 mailers out this summer, we are just getting started.

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