BOSTON (SHNS) – Massachusetts lawmakers are in store for another pay raise.
Two years after Gov. Charlie Baker certified a raise of 5.93 percent for the 200 members of the House and Senate for the 2019-2020 session, the governor in a letter to Treasurer Deb Goldberg on Wednesday advised her that a 6.46 percent increase is warranted in the base pay of legislators.
The raise in the base pay for legislators last session increased it by $3,709 to $66,256. A 6.46 percent increase works out to a $4,280 raise to $70,536.
In early 2017, legislators ignited an uproar by voting through a generous package of pay raises for themselves and other public officials, outside of the changes in compensation that the governor is required to make every two years. The adjustments in legislative base pay are required biennially under the state constitution, based on changes in the median household income statewide. Lawmakers got a 4.2 percent raise at the start of the 2017-2018 session.
The 2017 law raised the pay for constitutional officers and stipends for legislative leaders and committee chairs. That law also awarded office and travel expense budgets of between $15,000 and $20,000 for every lawmaker, based on how far they live from the State House, and called for all of that compensation to be adjusted every two years based on wage and salary changes over two years as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the Department of Commerce.
The latest raises are being authorized as Massachusetts copes with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the economy and jobs, with some areas like restaurant, travel, retail and entertainment hit especially hard and demands on the unemployment system rising to record levels.
Accepting or rejecting the raises is up to individual lawmakers and constitutional officers.
A spokesman for Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told the News Service Thursday they will not accept raises authorized under the 2017 law.
Though Massachusetts differs from many other states with its full-time Legislature, many lawmakers also hold outside jobs to supplement their incomes.