The wages of sausage-making
many massachusetts legislators say the salary they receive as full-time lawmakers is not enough to live on and raise a family, so the majority—nearly 60 percent—report some form of outside income.
But a look at legislative salaries throughout the United States indicates the pay in the Bay State is not half bad. While it certainly pales in comparison to California’s rate of $95,291, which is tops in the nation, the $61,440 base salary Beacon Hill lawmakers receive ranks sixth in the country.
Among 10 states with full-time legislatures—defined as requiring at least 80 percent of the hours of a full-time job—Massachusetts beat out Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida in salary. And that doesn’t include the $7,200 annual expense stipend (no vouchers required), the per diem payments for travel expenses, or the extra income all committee chairmen and vice chairmen receive in Massachusetts.
According to the most recent data compiled last year by the National Council of State Legislatures, nearly 58 percent of Massachusetts lawmakers identified themselves as “full-time legislators,” the fourth-highest percentage in the country behind California, Pennsylvania, and New York. The national average is 16.4 percent.
One other thing to keep in mind: The Massachusetts Legislature has not been in formal session since the end of July but the checks keep going out every month.