House Speaker Robert DeLeo as he spoke with State House reporters in January. (State House News Service photo by Sam Doran)
BOSTON — One of the state’s leading fiscal responsibility watchdogs is hopping mad after leaders on Beacon Hill broached the possibility of raising taxes in order to meet budget demands, weeks after lawmakers rammed through a series of legislative pay raises.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) told reporters earlier this week that he’s “not ruling out the possibility of any increase in taxes.”
Paul Craney, executive director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, an organization that bills itself as an advocate for fiscal transparency and responsibility, criticized DeLeo’s remarks in a statement released Tuesday.
“The last thing the Massachusetts economy needs is a bigger tax burden, but DeLeo’s commitment to big government never wavers,” Craney said.
DeLeo, following a leadership meeting with Governor Charlie Baker and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst), told reporters that the pay raises were “taken out of money that we already had,” referring to an account that had already been massaged into the budget prior to the vote.
The total in pay raises checks in at $18 million annually and is spread across constitutional and judicial offices in addition to the state Legislature. The perks are especially tasty for those like DeLeo and Rosenberg who hold leadership positions — the duo’s pay will go up by about 50 percent to $142,500 annually, making them the highest-paid state lawmakers in the nation.
On Monday the Senate voted during an informal session to add an additional leadership post, according to State House News Service, meaning Rosenberg will be naming an additional assistant majority whip. The 40-person body will eventually all hold various leadership positions, mean they will all be receiving raises.
The base salary for rank-and-file lawmakers is $62,547.
Assistant whips will receive stipends of $35,000 on top of their base pay.
The Massachusetts Republican Party pounced on the news in a statement that pointed out how Rosenberg “is packing his leadership team to allow more Democratic Senators to benefit from the massive pay hike passed by their party earlier this month.”
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Senate 34-6.