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.