Are you having a hard time making ends meet in this inflationary Biden malaise?
Could you use an extra $70,530 a year — for a “job” where you never, ever have to show up, where the actual place where you would theoretically “work” hasn’t even been open to the public for two years now?
And that $70,530 a year — that’s minimum wage for a state legislator, you understand. They’re all also grabbing at least $16,245 for “travel expenses,” even though they’re not traveling to Boston anymore.
And most of them have also been handed even more money for some phony-baloney so-called leadership position, running committees that just rubber-stamp what they’re ordered to do.
Did I mention that if a legislator lives more than 50 miles from the State House, he or she can write off most of their federal income taxes, just like almost all members of Congress do?
And then there’s the campaign committee you can set up, which allows you to write off almost all your expenses. You can even buy gift cards for your constituents, who might very well happen to be your parents … or your girlfriend. You can charge all your bar tabs – just ask Rep. Mark Cusack, D-Braintree.
If you could use a little – actually, a lot of — free money, no strings attached, perhaps you should consider running for the Massachusetts state Legislature. It’s the easiest gig this side of being an illegal immigrant.
Right now the state Republicans are looking for a few good men and women who’d like to grab some free money, I mean, enter public service.
Consider the State House – people used to joke that it was the only place in the world where people said, “Have a nice weekend” on Wednesdays. Another saying was that you could fire a cannon down the halls on Thursdays and Fridays and not hit anyone.
Now those jokes apply 365 days a year. Sometime in February or March 2020, everyone at the State House looked around at their fellow payroll patriots and said, “Have a nice life!”
The building has been closed ever since. And no one has missed a single paycheck.
Massfiscal.org has been trying to recruit Republican candidates, even advertising on my radio show. They’ve been stressing the “part-time” state senator from Arlington who made $220,544 last year. She said it was an accounting error — wink wink nudge nudge.
But I think an even better poster gal for the rewards, shall we say, of public service might be Sen. Harriette Chandler of Worcester, who last week announced her impending retirement at the tender age of 84.
The solons used to get reimbursed for every day they drove to work, on a scale — $5 if you lived around the corner, $50 if you were from, say, Berkshire County. It went up and up and up … but these “per diems” were always embarrassing, because the statesmen had to file paperwork with the treasurer for their dough. And reporters could check up.
Years ago, the Herald discovered that the solon from East Boston had filed for his $5 per diem while he was in Rome — Italy, not New York. The rep couldn’t believe he was being called out.
“For five bucks,” he told the reporter, “you’re going to croak me?”
So the hacks got rid of the per diems and just gave everybody a set amount per year — $15,000 if you lived within 50 miles, or $20,000 if you lived more than 50 miles away.
Which brings us back to Harriette Chandler. When the shift was made, she realized she was on the edge of the 50-mile line. Her local newspaper did a check of Google Maps. The quickest route from her home to the State House came in at 49.7 miles.
The alternate route, adding I-495 to her commute, came in at 53.1 miles.
Care to guess which route one Madame President (for indeed she was briefly the Senate president after Stanley Rosenberg resigned in disgrace) claimed. You are correct, sir. She filed for $20,000 rather than $15,000.
And behind the money comes the pension. Billy Bulger has been grabbing a kiss in the mail of what is now $272,719 a year since 2003. David Bartley, who last won an election in 1974, has been pocketing $157,666 since 2004.
Nice “work” if you can get it.
The reason I bring this up, other than the Feb. 15 date to pull papers, is that more and more this election year seems to be shaping up as a once-in-a-generation cycle, when a fed-up electorate throws the bums out in larger-than-normal numbers.
I’m starting to pick up that 1990 vibe around here again. That was the year in Massachusetts when dozens of Democrats retired due to ill health — the voters got sick of them.
The GOP elected both the governor and treasurer, and came within a few thousand votes of seizing control of the state Senate from Whitey Bulger’s younger brother.
All kinds of unlikely Republicans were elected in 1990. A 56-year-old factory worker on unemployment ousted the hack Middlesex County register of probate – by 40,000 votes. In Taunton, Sen. Teddy Aleixo was upset by a Republican whose day job was selling Bibles. His name was Erv Wall.
After his stinging 4,000-vote defeat, Sen. Aleixo was philosophical:
“Tell Erv he won’t sell too many Bibles in the state Senate.”
The pay now is at least four times what it was during that tidal wave election of 1990. Candidates, if you win this year, you won’t have to moonlight selling Bibles or anything else.
Hell, you wouldn’t even be able to if you wanted. The State House is closed, and that’s just the way the hacks like it. And you’ll learn to like it too – a lot.