Mayor Marty Walsh enthusiastically supports salary increases for legislative leaders, a proposal set to hit Governor Charlie Baker’s desk by Thursday. “If I was in the House I would support it,” Walsh said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “People aren’t running for office because the money is not there...I think if there were more opportunities to get people involved, I think if they thought they could actually earn a living and raise a family, they would run for office more.”
The proposed salary increases would mean a 40 percent raise for House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, from $102,000 to $142,500. Committee chairs in leadership positions across the House and Senate would also see pay increases, including an extra $65,000 annually, instead of $25,000. Majority and minority leaders would earn an extra $60,000, instead of $22,500. "Fair-minded people will consider the fact that stipends for the presiding officers have not changed for 33 years,” Rosenberg told WGBH News during a press conference Monday. “Who works for the amount 33 years later?”
According to Walsh, the legislature’s pay increases are tied to the Cost of Living Index, and need to be approved by the governor. Governor Baker has not said whether or not he’ll approve the bill.
The bill would bump the salaries of the governor and other constitutional officers, including Attorney General Maura Healey. Governor Baker, who would receive an extra $33,200 annually with a $65,000 housing allowance, said he would not personally accept a pay raise. In an interview with Boston Public Radio Tuesday, Healey said she was still undecided about accepting what would potentially be a 40 percent raise. “I don’t do this job for the money, I can tell you that. I never have, and that’s not what it’s about.,” Healey said. When asked if she would accept, she said, “I’d have to see how it all shakes out.”
According to Walsh, who worked as a legislator for two years heading the Building and Construction Trades Council, government jobs can’t retain talent in the ways that they should. “I see it inside City Hall with some of the department heads we have, I lose a lot of great talent because I can’t pay what a private company pays —and I know people don’t want to hear this—but you want to have the best and brightest in the legislature, you want to have the best and brightest in the city, you want to have the best and brightest working in government,” Walsh said. “”when you work at a non-profit, you get shares of stock and you get bonuses at the end of the year, that doesn’t happen in government.”
The proposal includes language banning legislators from earning outside income, in an effort to curb conflicts of interest. The bill hits Governor Baker’s desk January 26.
To hear Mayor Walsh’s full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.