Legislative leaders on Beacon Hill are trying to give themselves big raises, a move that will be met with opposition in a year when the budget's already tight.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo Monday defended their plan to increase their salary stipends by as much as 71 percent, from the current $102,000 to upwards of $175,000.
Rep. James Lyons (R-Andover) called the pay raise move a "money grab" by Democrats and said situations like this one are why voters in much of the United States have turned their support to President donald Trump.
"They're really fed up with government. They're fed up with their legislators, because what happens over time is it becomes more about what they can accomplish for themselves, and I think the Senate President and the Speaker should come out and say 'no, this is not the time to be doing this,'" Lyons told WGBH News.
The $175,000 figure was determined to be fair compensation according to a study from 2014 that Legislative Democrats shelved until returning to it last week. Reports Monday night said a deal was being worked out for a mere 40 percent increase, putting DeLeo and Rosenberg in the $140,000 range.
"The time to take up compensation questions is at the very beginning of the term. We are at the very beginning of the term, so when we sat down to discuss what is the first two or three months gonna look like this was obviously something that should be raised because the report was on the table waiting to be considered, so this was the time to do it," Rosenberg said Monday after meeting with DeLeo, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Rosenberg said it's far past time he and DeLeo to get raises.
"Fair-minded people will consider the fact that stipends for the presiding officers have not changed for 33 years. Who works for the amount 33 years later?" Rosenberg said.
A final agreement is still being worked out between the branches, who spend most of Monday waiting for the bill to emerge from the Ways and Means Committees, the panels that govern the state budget.
"[Serving as Speaker] was something I chose to do in consideration of whatever the pay scale may be, but the one thing that I can say, that being Speaker of the House is pretty much a seven-day-a-week job, 365 days a year," DeLeo said when asked if he deserves a pay bump.
Baker has said he and Polito will refuse the increases suggested for their offices, but he hasn't said whether he'll veto the raises for Beacon Hill's other top pols - all Democrats - until he sees the final bill.
"I would rather wait until we actually have a proposal to comment on rather than commenting on something that's kind of abstract," Baker said, adding that he and Polito are "quite content to continue to work with the compensation that we have."