Being a Beacon Hill Hack Has Its Benefits [OPINION]
The Massachusetts Legislature is expected to wrap up its business for the year later today after voting to ban certain smoking materials, plastic bags and the use of handheld devices while driving.
It's nice to be a hack. Pays well, too. Imagine informing your boss that you are checking out on November 20, but not to worry because you'll be back in two months. This after having had the summer off.
Nice work if you can get it. And did I mention it pays well, too?
Massachusetts lawmakers saw their paychecks get even fatter this year just two years after the controversial fast-tracked $18 million pay hike the hack-a-roos gave themselves. No wonder they fight to the death to stay there forever. The Boston Globe says some in the leadership watched as their pay increased by nearly $12,000 this year.
The Globe says all 200 members of the legislature were in line for a $3,700 raise in base pay this year as well as "a separate 8.3 percent hike to their office expense accounts, which currently range between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on how far they live from the State House."
The paper says House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka and "dozens of their top deputies" also received a third increase, "an 8.3 percent raise to their legislative stipends, the lucrative ad-on the Legislature affords to its highest-ranking officials and committee leaders." The Globe says DeLeo and Splka were already among the highest-paid legislative leaders in the country.
Governor Charlie Baker and all of the other constitutional officers were also due hefty pay hikes this year.
An amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution ties legislative base pay to household median income. This was done to prevent them from raising their wages at will. The pay scale is adjusted every two years. The pay raise enacted two years ago allows for adjustments to the stipends lawmakers receive for such things as transportation costs.
When lawmakers return to work in January, they plan to take up climate change legislation that will certainly impact your transportation costs. Among the many brilliant ideas being considered to save the world is a 15-cents-per-gallon increase in the gas tax. But that's just the beginning.
Massachusetts' government is corrupt and out of control. This is in large part the result of decades of one-party rule. And that is the result of a disengaged and uninformed electorate. When voters don't care enough to hold their elected officials accountable, the inmates take charge of the asylum.
These politicians work for us, yet they act as though it were the other way around. And it will continue until the voters of Massachusetts have finally had enough. Unfortunately, there is no indication that will happen anytime soon.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.