More Beacon Hill Pay Raises Now, and More Beacon Hill Pay Raises To Come

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By Michael P. Norton

Massachusetts House employees just got raises.

According to Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office, pay increases totaling $1.35 million a year have been granted for 2019 and 2020.

The salary adjustments are based on a two-year, annual 3 percent cost of living adjustment factor, according to Catherine Williams, a spokesman for House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Money is available within the House’s existing appropriation to cover the additional salary expenses without the need for approval of a new appropriation, Williams said. She said the House reviews cost of living adjustments biannually and has budgeted to make the change every two years since 2012.

The speaker’s office estimated that about 450 House employees will see their salaries adjusted. The raises were awarded Wednesday and take effect immediately, according to an official.

According to the state comptroller’s office, the House payroll in 2017 totaled $37.7 million, including $22.9 million for legislative employees and $14.4 million for state representatives.

Lawmakers in both branches began the 2017-2018 session by passing a law, over Governor Charlie Baker’s objection, that raised their own pay levels, in many cases substantially. Compensation levels vary greatly, depending on whether lawmakers are given special assignments by legislative leaders.

According to the comptroller’s site, Representatives Angelo D’Emilia (R-Bridgewater) and Jonathan Zlotnik (D-Gardner) were the lowest paid state representatives in 2017, with total compensation of just under $70,000. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) was the highest paid representative, receiving $157,500, including $62,500 in base pay and $95,000 in other pay.

House and Senate lawmakers are likely to get another pay bump in early 2019 when Baker’s office adjusts pay levels based on changes in median household income in Massachusetts, as the administration is required to do every two years.

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is also set to rise on January 1 from $11 to $12 an hour, and retailers in the new year will begin to scale back extra pay for employees who work on Sundays and holidays. Both measures were included in a law signed this year by Baker.

An aide to Senate President Karen Spilka said the Senate granted 3 percent raises to its employees in 2017 and 2018. The Senate is also collecting data and conducting an analysis to ensure compliance with the state’s new pay equity law, which went into effect July 1, said Spilka spokeswoman Sarah Blodgett. The goal, Blodgett said, is to complete the salary analysis in January.

The House is going through a similar process. “The House is currently undertaking the self-evaluation of staff salaries and pay practices required by the pay equity law. We expect to implement new policies and practices by late spring,” Williams said in a statement.