Some Members of the Massachusetts Legislature Plan To Donate Latest Pay Raise To Charity, But Most Won’t Say

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Unemployment is up, government revenue is down, and members of the Massachusetts Legislature are eligible to get a 6.46 percent base pay increase this year and a 4.89 percent increase to their office expense accounts.

Will they keep the money, or will they donate it to charity?

In 1998, Bay State voters decided via referendum that members of the Massachusetts Legislature should not be able to vote themselves a pay raise on their base salary. Instead, the state ties their base pay to the state’s median household income. Legislators can, however, vote to increase pay for committee assignments and offense expense accounts, as they did in 2017.

In a December 30 letter to Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, certified the 6.46 percent base pay raise, bumping salaries up for members of the legislature from $66,256 in 2020 to $70,536 in 2021, an increase of $4,280. That’s in addition to a 4.89 percent increase in their office expense accounts. Last year, members of the legislature who aren’t in leadership positions with districts within 50 miles of the State House received $16,250 while those outside of that radius received $21,660. This year, they will receive $17,044 and $22,729, an increase of $794 and $1,069 respectively, as Citizens for Limited Taxation points out.

For reference, the median household income in Massachusetts was $81,215 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income for the state in 2020 is not yet public. However, the minimum salary for a member of the Massachusetts legislature in 2020 was $82,506, based on the member’s base salary and stipend. Many legislators also work outside of state government.

With pay raises set to exceed $5,000 for all members of the legislature, New Boston Post contacted all 199 current members on Thursday and Friday last week, giving them until this past Sunday night to respond to say whether or not they planned to donate their pay increase to charity.

Most never responded, but some did. Of the 17 who responded, 14 — a mix of Republicans and Democrats — said they plan to donate their pay raise to charity or are looking into it. Three said they don’t plan on doing so, and explained their decisions.

Here is a look at how each member of the legislature responded — or didn’t respond to — New Boston Post’s inquiry.


Massachusetts House of Representatives 


James Arciero (D-Westford) — No response


Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow) — No response


Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy) — No response


Ruth Balser (D-Newton) — No response


Christine Barber (D-Somerville) — No response


John Barrett III (D-North Adams) — No response


Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield) — No response


Donald Berthiaume (R-Spencer) — No response


David Biele (D-South Boston) — No response


Natalie Blais (D-Sunderland) — No response


Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick) — No response


Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford) — No response


Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) — No response


Linda Campbell (D-Methuen) — No response


Peter Capano (D-Lynn) — No response


Daniel Carey (D-Easthampton) — No response


Gerard Cassidy (D-Brockton) — No response


Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) — No response


Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) — No response


Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) — No response


Rob Consalvo (D-Hyde Park) — No response


Edward Coppinger (D-West Roxbury) — No response


Claire Cronin (D-Easton) — No response


Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) — No response


Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury) — No response


Angelo D’Emilia (R-Bridgewater) — No response


Michael Seamus Day (D-Stoneham) — No response


Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) — No response


David DeCoste (R-Norwell) — Yes

The conservative representative ran on giving his pay raises back to the community, and he plans to keep following through with that promise, as he told New Boston Post in an email message.

“Since my election in 2014 one of my promises is that I don’t accept pay raises and return any money I receive as a raise to local charities, boy/girl scouts, veterans organizations, friends of libraries, etc,” DeCoste wrote. “I knew the terms of the job when I was elected and I’m not looking for anything over what that salary was. For similar reasons I don’t participate in the pension scheme because I believe it’s bad policy to benefit from a program that is far superior than what is available to most of my constituents and at their expense.”


Marcos Devers (D-Lawrence) — No response


Kip Diggs (D-Osterville) — No response


Carol Doherty (D-Taunton) — Giving it thought

Elected to the Massachusetts legislature last year, Doherty told New Boston Post in an email message she didn’t know that some of her colleagues give their pay raises to charity, but it’s something she wants to look into to help the people of her district.

“I am not averse to forgoing the pay raise and making a contribution to help people in my district. There are so many organizations that are trying to support people during this pandemic.  Food distribution centers and food pantries for one; heating oil assistance for another; adopting a family is an option. I am on the Board of Head Start and the Taunton Area Community Table. I am less familiar with these entities in Easton but would reach out to learn where the resources can best be placed.”


Mindy Domb (D-Amherst) — No response


Daniel Donahue (D-Worcester) — No response


Paul Donato (D-Medford) — No response


Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) — No response


William Driscoll (D-Milton) — No response


Michelle Dubois (D-Brockton) — No response


Patricia Duffy (D-Holyoke) — No response


Peter Durant (R-Spencer) — No response


Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) — No response


Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) — No response


Nika Elugardo (D-Jamaica Plain) — Yes

Not only does Elugardo plan on giving the pay raise back to the community, she also wants to give her employees a raise, as she told New Boston Post in an email message:

I want to figure out how to transfer both my base pay and stipend raises to my aide somehow. While I am clear what I want to do on principle, I’ve been out on a medical leave for a couple months and just recently returned. I am still getting my head around the possibilities.

I heard just today that we can use our stipend to augment our aide’s salaries. I was told something very different last term. I was under the impression members could not pay staff above their salaried amount.  I need to look into it and confirm what is and isn’t possible. Last term I used my stipend to cover my aide’s transit and work-related expenses, as well as office supplies for her home and State House office spaces. I’d rather just cut her a check for a bonus and then give her an expense account on top of that.

In any case my plan is to give as much of the two raises as I legally can to my aide and whatever is left to give to non-profits in my district that are working with youth living in public housing. Public housing and youth development have been major areas of focus for my office, before and especially during the pandemic. I’ve typically expensed my campaign account for that or supported general community fundraising initiatives.


Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) — No response


Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden) — No response


Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth) — No response


Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) — No response


Michael Finn (D-West Springfield) — No response


Carole Fiola (D-Fall River) — No response


Brandy Fluker Oakley (D-Mattapan) — No response


Paul Frost (R-Auburn) — No response


William Galvin (D-Canton) — No response


Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) — No response


Denise Garlick (D-Needham) — No response


Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) — Yes

Garry emailed New Boston Post on Friday saying, “I will be accepting the pay raise and donating it to nonprofits that serve the people in my district.”


Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury) — No response


Jessica Giannino (D-Revere) — No response


Susan Gifford (R-Wareham) — No response


Thomas A. Golden Jr. (D-Lowell) — No response


Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield) — No response


Kenneth Gordon (D-Bedford) — No response


Tami Gouveia (D-Acton) — No response


Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough) — No response


Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) — No response


Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn) — No response


Sheila Harrington (R-Groton) — No response


James Hawkins (D-Attleboro) — No response


Christopher Hendricks (D-New Bedford) — Yes

Hendricks told New Boston Post in an email message that he plans to donate his pay raise to charity, but understands why others might not:


Yes I have put in the necessary notice to forgo the salary increase. I think during this time with millions out of work and small businesses struggling to survive, legislator increases in pay should be curtailed if at all possible. Also I think legislators should lead by example and if they are able to forgo the increase they should, especially during a time when we used $1.5 billion of the rainy day fund.

I was not aware I could decline the increase until recently and if it turns out that I did not put notice in time, I will be donating the amount of the increase to a district charity or cause.

On a personal note but still in record, I am in a position where I’m able to forgo such an increase. I have no wife or kids and no dependents. I know that everyone’s situation is different so I don’t expect all legislators to forgo the increase but I think they should if at all possible.


Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) — No response


Bradford Hill (R-Ipswich) — Yes

Hill plans to give his pay back to the people of his district as well. He told New Boston Post in an email message:  “Any time a raise has been given out to the Legislature during bad economic times, I have always given the amount of the raise to various non-profits throughout my district.”


Kate Hogan (D-Stow) — No response


Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan) — No

Holmes will take his pay increase, and spoke to New Boston Post by telephone about the matter.

Holmes said that constituents don’t have a problem with him taking a pay increase, and that he noted that he makes less than members of the city council and the mayor of Boston who manage a much smaller budget and are responsible for about 685,000 people whereas the state legislature is responsible for well over six million people.

Holmes said:

My wife and I we give substantially to charity already I just think after many conversations I’ve had with constituents and quite frankly they’re always surprised — because of the way you guys in the media report things — they think I’m making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I’ve said multiple times to go look it up to see that I’m not making $180,000 or $190,000. I’m actually at the low end of what people get paid. Our base pay was about 66, and I made about 82 grand last year. And I’ve had constituents who didn’t believe me because of the way you guys report it. In a city where the city council makes about $100,000 and the mayor makes about $200,000 I find it actually strange.

Holmes also noted that Boston has a high cost of living, as does the city of Cambridge, so the salaries in the legislature aren’t great, all things considered, and that many members of the legislature also work another job.

Additionally, Holmes said he would like to see pay in the State House distributed more evenly instead of having the speaker and other members of the leadership earning far more than everyone else. In his final year in the legislature last year, former House Speaker Bob DeLeo made $169,000, according to That’s more than double what Holmes made.


Kevin Honan (D-Brighton) — No response


Vanna Howard (D-Lowell) — Yes

The freshman representative plans to put the money into charitable causes in her community, as she told New Boston Post an email message:

I am also donating to the following charities:

The Wish Project

Cor Unum Meal Center

Alternative House

Lowell Transitional Living Center.


Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) — No

Howitt told New Boston Post in an email message that he gives back to his community, but plans to accept the pay raise.

“The base salary of the House members and the increase or decrease was determined by a voter referendum in 1998,” Howitt said. “Previously to being elected, and presently, I have been philanthropic to many causes within and outside my district, and I plan to continue to do so.”


Daniel Hunt (D-Dorchester) — No response


Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) — No response


Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) — No response


Patrick Joseph Kearney (D-Scituate) — No response


Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) — No response


James Kelcourse (R-Amesbury) — No response


Sally Kerans (D-Danvers) — No response


Kay Khan (D-Newton) — No response


Meghan Kilcoyne (D-Clinton) — No response


Michael Kushmerek (D-Fitchburg) — No response


Kathleen LaNatra (D-Kingston) — No response


John Lawn (D-Watertown) — No response


David LeBoeuf (D-Worcester) — No response


Jack Lewis (D-Framingham) — No response


David Linsky (D-Natick) — No response


Kate Lipper-Garabedian (D-Melrose) — No response


Jay Livingstone (D-Back Bay) — No response


Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) — No response


Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston) — No response


John J. Mahoney (D-Worcester) — No response


Elizabeth Malia (D-Jamaica Plain) — No response


Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) — No response


Paul Mark (D-Peru) — No response


Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth) — No response


Joseph McGonagle (D-Everett) — No response


Joseph McKenna (R-Webster) — No response


Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) — No response


Joan Meschino (D-Hull) — No response


Aaron Michlewitz (D-North End) — No response


Christina Minicucci (D-North Andover) — No response


Liz Miranda (D-Roxbury) — No response


Lenny Mirra (R-Georgetown) — Yes

Mirra told New Boston Post in an email message that he will continue to give his pay raises to charity, specifically local charities:

When I first ran for this seat I was outspoken about the secrecy on Beacon Hill and the way they vote themselves pay raises, and I promised to not accept the ‘per diems’ or travel expenses that were offered to me.  When we voted on the large pay raises I voted against them, and when Governor Baker vetoed those pay raises I voted to sustain his veto.  The bill passed anyway and I promised to donate my raise to local charities which is what I will continue to do.

My only stipulation on which causes I donate to is that they are a local one.  I’ve got nothing against places like the United Way or Red Cross but I don’t know where my donations will go with them. So I will continue to donate to places like our local Council on Aging offices because they use their donations very effectively and I’m assured that the money will stay local.  

I’m also a Georgetown Kiwanis member and will be donating to them because they help families and businesses in the immediate area.  Additionally we’re hearing about local food pantries that are having a hard time keeping their shelves stocked so I will donate to them as well.  Also, most recently, I donated to toy drives in the area because covid has resulted in a lot of people out of work and I couldn’t stand the idea of a kid waking up on Christmas morning without a toy under the tree. So I donated to the toy drive put on by Senator Bruce Tarr and the one run by the Georgetown Police Department.

I will continue with these and others in the area.


Rady Mom (D-Lowell) — No response


Frank Moran (D-Lawrence) — No response


Michael Moran (D-Brighton) — No response


David Muradian (R-Grafton) — No response


Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth) — Yes

Muratore told New Boston Post in an email message that he has given his pay raises to charity in the past, and that he will do so this session, as well.

“Our family will donate my increase throughout the next two years to various non-profit organizations within Plymouth, which is the community I represent,” Muratore wrote. “In the last session, $5000 went to Plymouth Recovery Center along with other various organizations.”


James M. Murphy (D-Weymouth) — No response


Brian Murray (D-Milford) — No response


Tram Nguyen (D-Andover) — No response


James O’Day (D-West Boylston) — No response


Jacob Oliveira (D- Ludlow) — No response


Norman Orrall (R-Lakeville) — No response


Steven Owens (D-Watertown) — No response


Jerald Parisella (D-Beverly) — No response


Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) — No response


Kelly Pease (R-Westfield) — Yes

The newly-elected Pease explained what he plans to do with the pay raise in an email to New Boston Post.

“Over the course of the year, I will be donating to the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club in Westfield, MA,” Pease wrote. “I will also donate to the local food bank and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. These are some of the charities I donate to on a regular basis, but in my new position I will increase my donations to help these and other local causes.”


Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) — No response


Edward Philips (D-Sharon) — No response


Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox) — No response


Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield) — No response


Orlando Ramos (D-Springfield) — No response


David Robertson (D-Tewksbury) — Yes

Robertson told New Boston Post in an email message that he plans to give the raise to charity, and is looking at how he can best use the money to help both towns in his district:

I will be doing the same. I thought about splitting it between my towns food pantries or the Wilmington Community Fund and another Tewksbury cause. I guess you could say I am shopping a bit for equivalent causes between the two. For example, TFP has a huge walk in freezer and has a bit different volume relative to Wilmington, so I am not sure a 50/50 split between the two would be as useful to one as the other. On the other hand I want to show the towns my love equally.


Maria Robinson (D-Framingham) — No response


David Rogers (D-Cambridge) — No response


John Rogers (D-Norwood) — No response


Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin) — No response


Daniel Ryan (D-Charlestown) — No response


Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) — No response


Jon Santiago (D-South End) — No response


Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleboro) — No response


Paul Schmid (D-Westport) — No response


Danillo Sena (D-Acton) — No response


Alan Silvia (D-Fall River) — No response


Todd Smola (R-Warren) — No response


Michael Soter (R-Bellingham) — No response


Thomas Stanley (D-Waltham) — No response


William Straus (D-Mattapoisett) — No response


Alyson Sullivan (R-Abington) — Yes

The second term state representative made the decision last week to donate her pay raise because of the state of the economy, as she told New Boston Post in an email message:


In 1998 voters in Massachusetts through a ballot question caused the  Massachusetts Constitution to be amended to include a process to  increase salaries of certain elected positions, including the salaries for legislators. 

In 2017, prior to my election, the legislature increased the amount and  amended the process for the allocation regarding travel and office expenses.

In light of this past year’s economic impact on many small businesses  and families, and the continuing struggles for many small businesses and families, I have elected to donate 100% of the net increase of my salary to charities, families, and other worthy causes, to include seniors and veterans organizations, and food pantries, within the 7th Plymouth District.


Paul Tucker (D-Salem) — No response


Chynah Tyler (D-Roxbury) — No response


Steven Ultrino (D-Malden) — No response


Erika Uyterhoeven (D-Somerville) — No response


Andres Vargas (D-Haverhill) — No response


David Vieira (R-Falmouth) — No response


Tommy Vitolo (D-Brookline) — No response


Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) — No response


Thomas Walsh (D-Peabody) — No response


Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster) — No response


Susannah Whipps (U-Athol) — No

Whipps took issue with the question posed by New Boston Post, and said in an email message that she would accept the pay raise.

Whipps said:


Legislative salaries were set by the people of the Commonwealth via ballot question. These salaries are to be the same as the state’s median income. Ten years ago when the median income dropped, legislative pay also dropped by thousands of dollars. 

I’m a little confused. You say there are colleagues who are “not taking the raise and donating it to charity,” it would be impossible to not take it, but then give it away.  Also, by donating they will receive the tax benefit of a charitable contribution so that’s a bit of a moot point.

I have always found that donating to charities is personal and not something one does to receive a pat on the back. My community and the agencies to which I donate know the extent of my generosity.


Bud Williams (D-Springfield) — No response


Donald Wong (R-Saugus) — No response


Steven Xiarhos (R-Yarmouth) — No response


Jonathan Zlotnik (D-Gardner) — No response




Massachusetts Senate


Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) — No response


Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop) — No response


Michael Brady (D-Brockton) — No response


William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) — No response


Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) — No response


Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) — No response


Nick Collins (D-South Boston) — No response


Joanne Comerford (D-Northampton) — No response


Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) — No response


Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) — No response


John Cronin (D-Lunenburg) — No response


Julian Cyr (D-Truro) — No response


Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) — No response


Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) — No response


James Eldridge (D-Acton) — No response


Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) — Yes

The communications director for Senator Fattman emailed New Boston Post a comment from him explaining how he plans to give the money back to the community:


I find it difficult to take a pay raise during a time when so many are struggling across the country. Because these pay raises are set by the Governor, I believe the decision of what to do with this extra money lies in the hands of the individual legislator. For me, the money will go to supporting hospital foundations in my district to support the purchase of PPE to keep frontline workers safe.


Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough) — No response


Barry Finegold (D-Andover) — No response


Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) — No response


Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) — No response


Adam Gomez (D-Springfield) — No response


Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield) — No response


Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) — No response


John F. Keenan (D-Quincy) — No response


Edward J. Kennedy (D-Lowell) — No response


Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) — No response


Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) — No response


Joan Lovely (D-Salem) — No response


Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) — No response


Michael Moore (D-Millbury) — No response


Susan Moran (D-Falmouth) — No response


Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth) — Yes

O’Connor is one of two members of the Massachusetts Senate who told New Boston Post by email that they plan to give their pay raise back to their district:


I will not be taking the pay increase. I will be donating the increase to various charities across the South Shore that help people, especially the disabled and our children. Full accounting of the donations will be done through the Office of Campaign and Political Finance and listed on my website,


Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) — No response


Rebecca Rausch (D-Needham) — No response


Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) — No response


Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury) — No response


Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) — No response


Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) — No response


Walter Timilty (D-Milton) — No response


John Velis (D-Westfield) — No response