Galvin: Why I voted to increase payBy Guest
Many residents have contacted me about legislation that increased stipends for certain positions in the legislature and pay for the state’s judges and constitutional officers. There has been considerable inaccurate information spread about what was included in this legislation. I wish to clarify some of the finer points of this legislation that helped inform my decision to vote yes.
It is important to note that this legislation did not increase legislators’ base salary. The Massachusetts’ Constitution dictates that legislators’ base pay is tied to the median Massachusetts income. In the aftermath of the 2006 financial collapse, legislators’ pay actually decreased twice. The current base salary for a state representative is $62,547. This legislation increases stipends for legislators who are committee chairs or in leadership positions. These positions have not received a rate increase in over 34 years. These positions come with additional work and responsibility; many committees will review hundreds of bills over the course of a legislative session. This includes analyzing, rewriting, and meeting with advocates on both sides of an issue.
Only a portion of House members will receive a position with a stipend. According to House Rules, representatives may only collect one stipend. These assignments have not been announced, so we do not know if/how this stipend increase will personally affect us.
Judges and constitutional officers were also included in this legislation. Massachusetts judges are some of the lowest paid in the country. In 2012, Massachusetts ranked 45th in judicial pay. In 2013, raises were given to the judicial branch to help correct this inadequacy, but it was not enough to bring judges up to where they really should be. Of the $17.8 million earmarked for these increases, $12.4 million is for judicial raises. This additional increase will help Massachusetts retain qualified judges by paying them a competitive salary.
Our constitutional officers were also overdue for a rate increase. For example, compared to their counterparts in other states, the governor ranked 26th for salary and the attorney general was 31st.
Massachusetts has a track record of independently wealthy individuals running for the highest offices; hopefully, this increase will encourage more people to consider running for these positions.
Increases for constitutional officers and legislators were based on a study published in December 2014 by a Special Advisory Commission. The study is available online on the UMass Boston website. Although the study was published three years ago, legislation was not filed until it was fiscally prudent.
This year we are on target to fund education and provide municipal funding at record-high levels. Despite the recession, Massachusetts has maintained a robust rainy day fund and has improved our bond rating. Last April, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch maintained their respective bond ratings of Aa1/AA+ for the state and affirmed stable economic outlooks ahead for the commonwealth.
I am proud to represent Canton and the 6th Norfolk District, where I was raised and where I raised my family. I hope this answers questions that residents may have about this legislation. I encourage residents to contact me whenever they have questions or concerns.
State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton)
Short URL: http://www.thecantoncitizen.com/?p=35496