Since most State Legislators work other jobs and on average are in formal session for about 138 out of a possible 240 Working Days a year has the time come to make the Massachusetts Legislature a part-time position with matching pay? Currently Lawmakers get generous time off due to a light legislative schedule. There is another move afoot to make part-time legislators here in MA.
In an article in yesterday’s Herald gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker yesterday said he’d support slashing the bloated salaries of state lawmakers after a Herald story showing that more than half hold other jobs. Even his running mate who is currently a State Senator , Richard Tisei said he’s called for cutting legislative hours before.
According to the article Taxpayers shelled out $51 million on the Legislature this year and lawmakers take home a base pay of $61,439 annually (Not counting chairmanships stipends – the monthly expense check and per diems). By comparison lawmakers in Indiana cost only $24 million and earn $22,616 a year even though they craft a similar budget and serve about the same number of people.
In its “Waste Deep” series, the Herald reported Tuesday that more than half of lawmakers hold time-consuming jobs as well as representing constituents, including operating a diner, active law practices and even running a funeral parlor.
Apparently the Legislators have the power and rights to set Formal and “Informal sessions”. On aver in the last 3 years they have had these “sessions” about 138 out of a possible 240 Working Days a year (allowing for 4 weeks vacation). The average informal session last one to two hours at most. (Per House Journal on-line at http://www.mass.gov/legis/journal/main.htm)
I’ve asked this is the past, Isn’t time we require these elected officials to post their calendars and show us what they are doing the other One Hundred and Twelve Days they are not in session? How about the other six or so hours when they are in session? Better yet, let’s make them all part-time employees, cut their salaries and drop their health insurance. The State would save a bundle.
In yesterday’s paper current State Sen. Robert Hedlund , pledged to file legislation limiting legislative pay and hours – but the changes face an uphill battle because it requires a constitutional amendment. A majority of lawmakers would have to approve Hedlund’s bill twice. Any one care to place odds that this will occur in our lifetime???
Another State Sen. Richard Ross , mentioned in yesterday’s Herald he runs a funeral home and he’d be willing to look at reducing the full-time Legislature.
“I’d love to have a smaller government,” said Ross, who noted his perfect voting record despite holding another job.”
“A true part-time citizen Legislature in MA like we have in every other New England state a good dream but what do you think? Can it happen?
The staffs which do the majority of constituent work could continue full-time and get their benefits but it’s time to make these part-time Elected Official receive the part-time pay for the part-time hours they put in.