– The day before Thanksgiving, House Speaker Robert DeLeo gave hundreds of House employees a 6 percent pay raise estimated to total $1.6 million. DeLeo Communications Director Seth Gitell said the raises are not retroactive and noted that almost 60 percent of
House employees make $40,000 or less per year. He defended the hikes and told Beacon Hill Roll Call that they are based on a two-year annual 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment factor, promotion or merit-based modifications. He added, “The adjustments are commensurate with those realized by most state employees within collective bargaining units and will be supported by existing appropriations.”
Citizens for Limited Taxation’s President Barbara Anderson said that taxpayers, who fund the pay of House employees, should be first in line for “raises” in the form of tax relief until the income tax rate drops to 5 percent as voters mandated 14 years ago. Anderson is referring to the year 2000 when voters approved a gradual reduction of that year’s 5.85 percent tax to 5 percent by January 2003. The Legislature in July 2002 froze the rate at 5.3 percent and included an automatic trigger that reduces the tax by one-half of 1 percent each year that the state’s economic growth is at least 2.5 percent until the tax is reduced to 5 percent. This mechanism has already resulted in a tax cut in 2012, when the rate fell from 5.3 to 5.25 percent, and in 2013, when it fell from 5.25 to the current 5.2 percent.
Anderson said, “Pay raises should depend on how much money the state has to fund its budget. We’re told the state has a $329 to $900 million deficit, so how can there be pay raises? Let’s wait until Governor-elect Charlie Baker takes office and helps state agencies become efficient enough to justify more pay.”