New Bedford’s Hendricks Right to Reject Pay Hike [OPINION]
Not many members of the Massachusetts Legislature will refuse to accept a recent pay raise. Only two members, Democrat Representatives Chris Hendricks of New Bedford and Anne Gobi of Spencer, have indicated that they will not take the pay raise. Several others plan to take the money and donate it to charity.
Four of the six statewide elected officials – Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Treasurer Deb Goldberg – have also declined the pay raise.
Under a 2017 law enacted by state lawmakers, the governor must decide based on several factors, including median household income, whether to adjust the pay of the Commonwealth's constitutional officers and members of the legislature. Using the formula approved in 2017, constitutional officers are eligible for a 4.89 percent increase in their base pay while legislators would get a 6.46 percent base pay increase.
Kudos to Hendricks, the first to reject the pay raise for being ill-timed. During a recent appearance on my program, Hendricks noted the economic crisis facing many individuals and businesses in reaching his decision to refuse the additional money. Hendricks also cited a recent decision by lawmakers to borrow $1.5 billion from the "rainy day" account to balance the budget to support his belief that the raise is unaffordable.
Deferring the pay raise to charity sounds like a great idea, but it means the money still gets allocated. And what is to prevent a policymaker from keeping the raise after a few months of donating it to charity?
Many Massachusetts residents are suffering as a result of the pandemic and irresponsible government spending. It is no time to be giving pay raises to elected officials.
We should not forget the greedy politicians at election time who stuff their pockets with our cash while we are suffering, but we will. These bandits know no fear, and to them, that's a license to pilfer.
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.