Patrick fires a shot in the dark at legislators

As Gov. Deval Patrick (until noon Thursday, that is) strolled out of the State House Wednesday evening on his not-so Lone Walk, there was likely one common thought running through the minds of the legislators he left behind: “Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.”

As his term has been winding down, Patrick protested to anyone who would listen that his icy relationship with lawmakers was “urban legend,” ticking off accomplishments he said were forged through hard work by both branches.

But after the lights were turned out in the State House Wednesday night and while he was at home packing to leave Thursday for his long-awaited vacation in South America, the departing governor sent one final dart at his buddies down the hall: He declined to approve a pay raise for lawmakers, filing a letter with the state Treasurer saying his calculations determined they don’t qualify for a hike in salary because the median income of Massachusetts households had not increased.

Patrick was constitutionally bound to review and determine if legislators should get a pay increase based on whether the median income of Massachusetts households had increased – and, conversely, cut the salaries if the median income went down.

Patrick’s actions means lawmakers will remain at their current rate of $60,032 for the next two years, although most Democrats get added pay for leadership and committee chairmanships and many legislators have outside income to keep the debt collectors away. They also get an additional $7,200 in unitemized expense money as well as per diem pay if they put in a claim for it.

“I regret this outcome,” Patrick wrote to Treasurer Steven Grossman, who himself is leaving in less than two weeks. “As you know, I believe that an adjustment in base compensation for legislators and constitutional officers is warranted.”

Two years ago, following the same formula for growth in the median income of Massachusetts households, he cut legislative pay by $1,100 and, two years before that, he sliced it by one-half of 1 percent. Many hoped the governor would approve a perfunctory hike based on the state’s improving economy.

“It surely is going to go up,” outgoing Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer told theBoston Herald last month. “The question is how much.” The answer is zero.

The decision has the potential to be a contentious issue on Beacon Hill. A special commission set up by the Legislature recommended last month huge pay hikes for the House Speaker and Senate President as well as increases for most of the constitutional officers. The commission also recommended a change in the way the state median income is calculated that would have resulted in a 6.6 percent increase in the legislative base salary.

Patrick said he supported the commission’s findings and would have embraced changing the formula for calculating median income, though he said he wanted lawmakers to first address the pending revenue shortfalls. But with the looming budget deficit and indications from Gov. Charlie Baker that he would not support pay increases while there was a gap in the budget, Speaker Robert DeLeo opted not to bring the pay-raise measure to a vote before the House. Even if the Legislature did pass the pay-raise package and overrode a Baker veto, the package still wouldn’t take effect for two years since a sitting Legislature can’t raise its own pay.

Resentment about another year without a pay hike is surely festering on Beacon Hill. State Rep. Angelo Scaccia of Hyde Park, the dean of the House, expressed what’s on many members’ minds when he held the gavel before the reelection of DeLeo as speaker on Wednesday. Scaccia made what was perhaps the day’s most pointed reference to the controversial legislation while introducing honored guests, including former House speaker Thomas Finneran.

“Twelve years ago, I was making $60,000,” Scaccia said only half-jokingly. “Today, I am making $60,000 a year because of [Finneran’s] constitutional amendment that allows the people to decide what we are going to make. Thank you Tom Finneran.”

And he can now thank Deval Patrick. But don’t hold your breath.

–JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

The reign of Senate President Stanley Rosenberg begins: Will it be different?

Robert DeLeo is re-elected as House Speaker as his ties to last year’s Probation corruption trial go unmentioned by Democrats and Republicans, CommonWealth reports. The Probation issue didn’t matter to the Lowell-area delegation, the Sun reports.

Gov. Deval Patrick takes the Lone Walk out of the State House and back to private life. The Bay State Banner serves up a compelling profile of the soon-to-be-former governor.

Gov. Charlie Baker better have his famous budgeting game on, as he’ll immediately face some tough deficit-cutting decisions, writes the Globe‘s Josh Miller.

A pre-inaugural prayer service for Baker last night in Roxbury highlights the growing clout of Hispanic churches.

A business started at the Pine Street Inn will be helping to cater Baker’s inauguration, the Herald reports.

Keller@Large offers a few suggestions for the next time capsule buried at the State House.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Danvers estimates the state’s decision to house homeless families in local motels will cost the city $500,000 this year, mostly in lost motel taxes and for transporting homeless students to their previous schools, the Salem News reports.

INTERNATIONAL/NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Around the world, declarations of “Je suis Charlie” have come flooding in in reaction to the slaughter by Islamic fundamentalists of a dozen people at the offices Charlie Hebdo, a Paris satirical newspaper.

U.S. News & World Report takes a look at Sen. Elizabeth Warren‘s skunk at the Democratic party persona.

OLYMPICS

By tonight, we may either hear giddy talk of Boston’s world-class rise — along with the girding for years of battle with those not giddily embracing the wisdom of trying to host the 2024 Summer Olympics — or the whole thing will take its place alongside Tom Menino’s idea of a waterfront City Hall and other transformative ideas.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Jon Chesto runs down what a Baker administration may mean for various sectors of the state’s economy.

The federal government will distribute $8.3 million to area fishermen in the second round of federal relief aid.

EDUCATION

Gov. Charlie Baker tours the Robert Frost Middle School in Lawrence, touting the state’s takeover of the city’s schools as an example of the kind of aggressive pursuit of improvement that should be the goal across the state, theEagle-Tribune reports. CommonWealth dove deep on the Lawrence school turnaround effort here.

Schools in Lowell close and others in surrounding communities delay their openings because of extreme cold, theSun reports. No school in Worcester, either, the Telegram & Gazette reports. Boston closes its schools and homeless shelters face increased demand, WBUR reports.

Some Brockton parents and educators are concerned that cuts to funding for substitute teachers are leaving more students in study halls rather than in classrooms.

Pioneer Institute’s Jim Stergios begs to differ with US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who declared Deval Patrick a national leader on education in a Globe op-ed earlier this week.

The Rotary Club and Equitable Bank in Lynn distribute free dictionaries to every third grader in the city’s schools, theItem reports.

HEALTH CARE

Governing reports on affordability of state health care exchanges, and the very hands-on approach in Massachusetts where the state negotiates rates wasn’t the lowest.

The Massachusetts approach to health reform has many shortcomings, writes Dr. Joel Rubenstein inCommonWealth.

TRANSPORTATION

The MetroWest Daily News argues that it is time to raise the federal gas tax.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Deval Patrick , once the biggest political force behind the Cape Wind project, said yesterday, “I don’t know” when asked whether he thinks the project will survive. New Bedford’s mayor says the city’s new marine terminal is not dependent on Cape Wind, CommonWealth reports. Officials say New Bedford’s South Terminal, which has been undergoing a $100 million renovation in anticipation of being used as a staging facility for offshore turbines, will still have plenty of business despite the potential collapse of the giant offshore wind project. Cape Cod Times coverage ishere.

A final report on the state’s natural gas needs commissioned by the Patrick administration is still not out, but it’s nevertheless fueling debate about expanding pipeline capacity, the Eagle-Tribune reports, For more details,CommonWealth earlier reported on the release of a draft of the report and the controversy that ensued.

A new study says fracking caused 77 mostly tiny earthquakes in a section of Ohio, Governing reports.

Lobstermen protest new regulations designed to protect whales.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

Paul McMorrow , one of our colleagues here at CommonWealth and also a once-a-week columnist for the Boston Globe, is leaving to join the Baker administration to work for Jay Ash, the secretary of housing and economic development.

Beth Purdue , who began as an editorial assistant in the New Bedford Standard Times newsroom 14 years ago, has been named editor of the paper to replace Bob Unger, who stepped down in an attempt to save some reporting and editing jobs.