Legislative pay raise is unwarranted, unethical

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By Wednesday, Feb 22 Letters  13 Comments

To the Editor:

Our early childhood development programs are in crisis; our Department of Children & Families (DCF) programs are in crisis; we have a desperate need for foster parents. We have children in the Commonwealth who are hungry. We have children in the Commonwealth who are homeless. We have an addiction crisis in the Commonwealth needing recovery programs and untold other resources.

We have critical health care needs in the Commonwealth where the push for Medicare for All needs to be legislated once and for all. Our schools and libraries are in constant and ongoing need of support. Programs supporting those suffering from domestic violence and rape need increased support. Poverty in the Commonwealth just cannot be ignored. And the most vulnerable are the ones who really suffer, the majority of whom are women, girls and children.

And the Legislature gives itself an $18,000,000 raise.

And the Legislature gives itself an $18,000,000 raise without a public hearing.

And the Legislature gives itself an $18,000,000 raise effective immediately without even waiting until after the next election to take effect.

And the Legislature gives itself an $18,000,000 raise to include the judiciary so as to give the appearance of bypassing scrutiny and supposedly allows the actions taken to appear legitimate.

I believe:

No one ought to be making a career out of what is supposed to be public service.

No one ought to be legislating raises without public input.

No one ought to be legislating better pay and benefits for themselves while being part of the Legislature…It appears to be an outrageous conflict of interest.

I will not forget:

Every legislator who voted for this egregious and greedy pay raise and plan to work against any candidate who had the audacity to support the raise, despite the Governor’s veto;

Every legislator who overrode the Governor’s veto.

As so many of us want to see a democracy of representative government where everyone participates, this pay raise flagrantly displays so much of what is severely wrong in the absence of representation of the most vulnerable in our country.

The Legislature needs to repeal this raise. If any raises are to be approved, there needs to be a structure for incremental increases and separation of the groups that receive those raises done on a one-by-one basis.

Inequity is running rampant.

Rachel I. Branch

999 Massachusetts Ave.

North Adams, Mass.


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13 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Patrick Fennell says:

    Well said Rachel.

  2. Brian says:

    While I agree with some of what the letter writer offers, public service should be considered a career choice, and a meaningful compensation should be paid. No one should work for free if they’re doing an important job for which they are qualified. Performance reviews are handled through our electoral system. Don’t like the job they’re doing? Vote them out – or better yet, quit complaining and run against them.

    1. Rachel I. Branch says:

      Brian…Please see my answer below Anna.

  3. Anna says:

    I would like the legislators’ names published so we are all aware of who to vote against.

    1. Rachel I. Branch says:

      Thanks for your viewpoint. I have run for office 5 times in my life, and was elected as a school committee member on a write-in vote in November, 2016.

      1. Rachel I. Branch says:

        Anna…ALL of the Western Mass. Delegation voted for the raise.

  4. John says:

    Government jobs are incredibly lucrative. Pensions, designer healthcare at minimal cost.

    The recent election highlighted that America has become polarized between those paying the ills, and those hanging off the taxpayer’s wallet.

    We need government employees. However, We don’t need nor can we have everyone to be a government employee and we don’t need government employees to have designer benefits far exceeding those paying the bills

    1. Rachel I. Branch says:

      Thanks, John…My accent was directed at the elected legislators. I certainly believe and do agree that we need (hopefully dedicated) government employees, and their pay and benefits need to be appropriate…and by that I mean consistent with how we everyday folks are living.

  5. Joseph Method says:

    I’m not sure about the specific numbers here but if you let legislators’ salaries get too out of line with the private sector then you might not attract the best people, and you make legislators more vulnerable to lobbyists. I would rather pay them well but prevent them from lobbying after their terms are over. I imagine some of the Republicans who opposed this pay raise could do so because they have other significant sources of income. That said, it seems weird to me that a position like senate president is paid so much more than the rank and file. It seems like the position itself should be honor enough.

    1. Rachel I. Branch says:

      Thanks for you comment, Joseph. If someone is elected as a legislator and serves a term or two, that is public service. One would hope that those who run for office and are elected do so because they want to perform public service and not using those positions as a career path for salaries and lobbyist contacts. To me private sector comparisons are moot, and the lobbyist connections go away if the emphasis stays on public service…and, of course, campaign finance reform is essential, and the greed needs to be addressed. I have no problem with someone making a livable wage and enjoying appropriate benefit while serving in elected office. I find the additional raises to both
      DeLeo and Rosenberg outrageous. I look at this as concentration of power where everyday folks have a really difficult time running for office. Hope I have responded well.

    2. Patrick Fennell says:

      MA has a budget 1/3 the size of CA and only have 1/7th of the population and they are the 3rd largest state in area. MA is well out of hand and the 10th most corrupt state. Ironically the part-time legislators are far less corrupt and get their work done in a fast and no nonsense manner. Public Service in government should NOT be a career move. One need look at our representives to see the proff, they are all useless and already bought and paid for. ALL of them.

  6. Rachel I. Brach says:

    Adam Hinds sent me an unsolicited, unwanted 1 1/2 page letter to attempt to justify his vote approving the $18,000,000 raise. It only further highlights his failure to understand the crucial needs of the most vulnerable. I would suggest that he read paragraphs 1 & 2 of my letter as many times as needed until her understands the context. Wasting taxpayer dollars to write unsolicited, unwanted letters is not acceptable and is not doing the job required of his position. If anyone wants a copy of the letter, you have my permission to contact his office for a copy.

    1. Rachel I. Branch says:

      Last name is “Branch.”

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