BOSTON - The Springfield Republican editorial board ripped legislative Democrats for their backhanded tactics designed to maximize their personal benefit after they rammed through a masssive $18M pay hike.
Editorial: State Democrats keep feathering their nest
By The Editorial Board
Massachusetts taxpayers can't be blamed for thinking their Democratic state legislators are out of control.
On the heels of pay and stipend raises they voted themselves, to the tune of an $18 million addition to an already-strapped budget, the Senate adopted an order allowing Senate President Stanley Rosenberg to name an additional assistant majority whip. Senate rules already allow the president to nominate committee chairs, a majority leader, up to three assistant majority leaders, two assistant majority whips and a president pro tempore.
In Massachusetts, "majority" means "Democrats." The Senate counts 34 Democrats among its 40 members, and all 34 are expected to hold one or more leadership position or committee chairmanship.
The new position comes with a $35,000 stipend, added to a $62,547 base salary. A job in the $60,000 range has been transformed into a position of nearly $100,000.
In the overall context of state government, $35,000 is very small, but there is more to this ongoing tale than simple numbers. There is leadership, accountability and sensitivity to a constituency battling to stay above water, and continually hearing the state is struggling to meet the meets of its population.
All of those qualities are absent here, as a top-heavy state government becomes more top-heavy. That message to the public is worse than even the $35,000 price tag attached to this order.
Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, vetoed the pay raise package but the veto was overridden. It's tempting to say "they're all alike" whenever political dissatisfaction surfaces, but there is no way around the fact that these raises at a most inopportune time are the work of Massachusetts Democrats.
How can they follow the raises with a measure low on cost but high on disturbing symbolism? Cynical citizens will give this answer: because they can.
They say they care what the public thinks. It's past time for legislators to give evidence they mean it.