Monday, January 03, 2011

Sometimes less is really more

According to the Boston Globe, Governor Patrick has recommended a 0.5 percent pay cut for state lawmakers in 2011, worth about $300 off of legislators' base salary of $61,440. (Full Globe story)

We support the move. But, we think this could actually end up as a raise for some lawmakers. Here's why:

For several years now, a handful of state legislators have been refusing to accept salary increases as a matter of principle. The most recent example was in 2009, when certain members from both parties refused to accept a $3,203 raise (or pledged to donate it to charity) while the rest of the state was in financial difficulty.

Today's action by the Governor - appropriate and admirable on his part - raises an interesting possibility for legislators. We wonder: will legislators who refused the pay raise back in 2009 maintain their 2011 salary at $58,237? Or, will they 'accept' the Governor's pay cut and use it as cover to set their 2011 salary at $61,140 – for them, a pay increase of almost $3,000 from 2009 which also has implications for their pensions in the future.

If legislators do choose to increase their salaries this way, they could actually end up costing the state money: every $3,000 increase is worth about 10 cuts of $300 each. Not to mention the fact that it would be hypocritical.

Stay tuned.


  1. WOW, great insight. Our local Rep. said he would "donate" to charity last year so as not "accept" the increase. Really...who can prove he actually made the donations? Will he show us his 2010 Fed. Return? He did get the increase in his paycheck, so we have to trust he did the right thing. I do not trust ANY of THEM. Same old story on Beacon Hill...with per diems, etc. etc. Time for a PART-TIME legislature like NH. After all, they do hardly ever work on anything important. But nice insight by LRYIC !!

  2. Time to ask them all to take a pledge.....if they did not accept the increase in 2010, then have them re-pledge to keep their salary at the 2010 level. How can you get them to pledge ??? The Minority Leader had a lot who declined the raise last year...maybe we should start with his caucus. Maybe this can get to the Boston Newspapers.... sounds like a good story in the making ! Keep the pressure on.....

  3. It would be interesting to see who didn't take the pay raise and whether they'll take the "pay cut."

    Two thoughts

    1. Does the pay cut count against their current legislative salary?
    2. If they do get the 3K raise, that's really not a big deal in a pension universe that takes the average of the three biggest years. That really only makes a difference when people get raises in the tens of thousands, which is why no one ever takes a state job with a slightly higher salary at the end of their career to boost their pension. The math just doesn't work.


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