Monday, November 15, 2010

Five easy reforms for the GOP

One of the bright spots for the GOP in Massachusetts last week was the fact that Republicans dramatically increased their ranks in the Legislature.

This infusion of conservatives in the Legislature is great news for anyone who thinks balance is a good thing, and it will be good to shake up one-party rule, if only a little. We think incoming GOP members should consider starting with five simple reforms that would save money and make an even more significant statement that Republicans are there to stand up for taxpayers and good government:

  • Refuse to take a pay raise. Under the Constitution, state legislators get an automatic pay raise every two years based on the economy. If legislators are given a pay raise this year, we think GOP reps should refuse to take it.
  • Don't take per diems. One of the perks of being a member of the Legislature is that you are paid just for driving to work. Maybe this made sense back when members rode horses from western Massachusetts to the State House, but these days, per diems don't make sense. We think GOP members should refuse to claim per diem payments.
  • Give up leadership pay. We respect members whose work as legislative leadership or as committee chairs requires them to put in more time and effort than rank-and-file members. But leadership stipends don't make sense in a full-time legislature, where it's assumed that all members put in full-time effort on legislative business (even if they don't). We think it would send a strong statement if GOP members refused to take leadership pay, particularly in the Senate, where there are only a handful of members.
  • Pledge not to take a public pension. A number of GOP candidates this year pledged not to take a public pension. We think GOP members should follow suit.
  • Eliminate legislative expense accounts. Each legislator gets several thousand dollars each year to cover office expenses. At the same time, many other public employees (for example, teachers) are required to pay out-of-pocket to cover work-related expenses. We think it makes sense to forego this payment, especially when members could raise campaign funds to cover these expenses.

We're not trying to pick on GOP members; we think these reforms should be made by all legislators. But Republicans could get the ball rolling by voluntarily pledging these reforms themselves and leading by example. Some incoming members, like Ryan Fattman from Sutton, have already pledged not to take per diems or a pension. We applaud him and others like him for this courageous position, and we wonder if others (especially longer-serving GOP members) will be willing to follow his lead.

1 comment:

  1. OK...all great ideas. I recall my legislator said that he would donate his last increase to charity.....wonder if he ever did? And eliminating the expense accounts will just push more abuses on to the campaign accounts which are already politician slush funds that no real working person has. They get used for cell phones, newspapers, internet access, flowers for funerals, gifts, etc.etc. When I make expenditures of this type, they come out of my net pay. A few new ideas.... Cut the legislature to part time, since they are hardly in full session. I think 6 months would be a great start. Cut the office staffs by 50% now, especially the leadership offices. Make all the pols part time employees. NH does it very nicely. Lets look north to see what is really working there.


By submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our policies on comments noted in the sidebar.