Chandler gets $35,000 bump with new emerita post

Extra pay will ease pay cut for giving up president's job

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

WHEN SHE HANDED OVER the Senate president’s gavel last month, Sen. Harriette Chandler made a soft landing financially thanks to the creation of a new title that was accompanied by a $35,000 stipend.

As president, Chandler had been paid at an annual rate of a little more than $160,000. After she resigned from the presidency on July 26, the Worcester Democrat was appointed vice chairwoman of the Education Committee, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy, and was also given the new position of Senate president emerita. That last position, which was not specifically included in the pay raise law, will earn the Worcester Democrat $35,000 as it is considered a floor leader position, according to a spokesman. Combined, all her leadership positions will leave her with a salary of about $150,000, about $10,000 less than what she had been earning as president.

Sen. Karen Spilka, who took over as president, will see her pay rise from $148,000 to just under $160,000, according to the treasurer’s office.

Spilka left behind the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means chair, which carried a $65,000 stipend. That position is now officially listed as vacant. Spilka has said Vice Chair Sen. Joan Lovely would oversee and review all legislation moving through Ways and Means for the remainder of 2018, but without serving as chair.

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The first order of business for the Democrat-controlled Legislature at the January 2017 start of the two-year session was to pass a controversial package of pay raises for committee chairs and legislative leaders. Stan Rosenberg, who resigned from the presidency in December, helped steer the pay raise bill into law over Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto.

The $62,500 base pay of lawmakers is tied to increases and decreases in the median income of Massachusetts residents, but the stipends offered for different positions in the Legislature mean their take-home pay can far exceed that of the average Bay Stater.