By Bob Katzen
Gov. Charlie Baker today announced that the salary of the 200 members of the Legislature will be increased by $2,515 for the 2017-2018 legislative session. This 4.19 percent raise brings the current $60,032 base salary of each of the 40 state senator and 160 state representatives to $62,547.
Baker is required under the state constitution to determine the amount of a pay raise or cut that state legislators would receive for the upcoming 2017-2018 session. All Massachusetts governors are obligated to increase or decrease legislative salaries biennially under the terms of a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 1998. The amendment, approved by a better than two-to-one margin, requires legislative salaries to be “increased or decreased at the same rate as increases or decreases in the median household income for the Commonwealth for the preceding two-year period, as ascertained by the governor.”
This hike comes on the heels of a salary freeze for the 2015-2016 legislative session, an $1,100 pay cut for the 2013-2014 session and a $306 pay cut for the 2011-2012 session. Prior to 2011, legislators’ salaries had been raised every two years since the $46,410 base pay was first raised under the constitutional amendment in 2001.
The new $62,547 salary means legislative salaries have been raised $16,137, or 34.8 percent, since the mandated salary adjustment became part of the state constitution.
House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg, both Democrats, receive a $35,000 bonus for their service — boosting their salaries to $97,547. House Minority Leader Brad Jones and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, both Republicans, receive a $22,500 bonus for their service — boosting their salaries to $85,047.
Over the next few weeks, DeLeo, Rosenberg, Jones and Tarr will choose their 2017-2018 leadership teams and appoint dozens of members to committee chair, vice chair and other leadership positions. At that time, many legislators will see their base pay boosted by bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $25,000. In the 2015-2016 session, 101 or more than half of the state’s 200 legislators received one of these bonuses.