The Codcast: Speaking up for the pay hike

There was a lot of stealth and quiet involving the now-passed pay raise for state officials that sits on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk awaiting his promised veto.

When House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg issued their joint statement last week about a public hearing on a two-year-old report recommending massive increases for the two legislative leaders and more modest hikes for constitutional officers, most people outside the State House were caught off-guard. After all, the report had been collecting dust since then-incoming governor Baker indicated he’d veto any proposal, which he announced he will now do. Also, Baker, performing his constitutional duty, had just authorized a 4.1 percent salary increase for lawmakers just weeks earlier.

But the fact the hastily called and sparsely attended hearing, which featured little testimony, was ordered by the state’s top two lawmakers was the signal that everyone needed to know this thing was on an express train to passage. The bill that emerged followed the report’s recommendations on raises for constitutional officers, pared back the hikes for speaker and Senate president, tacked on increases for leadership, chairmen and vice chairmen as well as expense stipends, and, for good measure, tossed in some money for judges, clerks, registers, and assistants despite the judicial branch getting a pay increase three years ago.

Come to find out, adding in judges even though they weren’t included in the report insulated the measure from repeal at the ballot box because the state constitution bars using initiative petitions to cut judges’ compensation.

Though DeLeo and Rosenberg answered a few questions about the measure and Ways and Means chairmen, Brian Dempsey and Karen Spilka respectively, were the official faces in offering the bill on the floors of their chambers, few others stepped forward to express support other than throwing the “yes” switch when it came time to vote. Debate, if you call it that, was limited to a handful of House Republicans but in the end, they and the Senate passed it with room to spare.

Sen. William Brownsberger has been a supporter of the pay raises and one of the few willing to speak out in justifying the hikes. He joined us on The Codcast to offer his insight and defend why the time is never right but it is the right thing to do. Brownsberger said the quickness with which the bill made its way through the process was because “it’s not rocket science,” that what you see is what you get.

But he also said he understand the anger and frustration from voters over the issue and pointed out that while the entire measure is immune from repeal by initiative petition because of the inclusion of judges, it doesn’t prevent an effort from targeting lawmakers pay alone at the ballot box.

He also talked about the evolving relationship between Rosenberg and DeLeo, who appeared to have a tense relationship during the last term but have been working together more to find common ground and move bills through the Legislature. “They’re adults,” said Brownsberger.



Gov. Charlie Baker is taking steps to collect sales tax from internet-only retailers who ship items to Massachusetts residents. (CommonWealth) Amazon says it will start collecting and remitting state sales tax on items shipped to six more states, including Vermont. (Governing)

Baker confirmed that he will veto the Legislature’s lopsided vote for a pay raise bill, but with no sign that he’s trying to win over votes to block an override, his move could be largely symbolic. (State House News) Howie Carr is just a tad cynical about Baker’s four-square opposition to the pay raise. (Boston Herald)

Massachusetts Republicans stick with Kirsten Hughes as state party chairman. (MassLive)


Boston officials say they are working to figure out how it would actually work to offer sanctuary space in City Hall for illegal immigrants to stay in the face of federal deportation efforts. (Boston Globe) Joe Battenfeld says Marty Walsh has found a perfect re-election opponent: Donald Trump. (Boston Herald) Or may be that should be opponents: Walsh “rickrolls” Howie Carr in a Twitter exchange over the immigrant issue. (Boston Herald)

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse vows to defy President Trump’s sanctuary city order. (MassLive)

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno denies reports his municipality is a sanctuary city. (MassLive) Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez says his municipality will comply with Trump’s sanctuary order. (Miami Herald)

Haverhill brings an extra exterminator into City Hall to deal with mice. (Eagle-Tribune)

State Rep. Timothy Whelan of Brewster has refiled a bill that would allow the town of Dennis to levy a 5 percent sales tax on medical marijuana. (Cape Cod Times)


“How many unforced errors does Trump need in one week?” asks a Boston Herald editorial. US Rep. Michael Capuano talks about the dizzying first seven days of the new administration, as if one person can accurately sum up the week. (Greater Boston)

President Trump personally called the head of the National Parks Services the day after his inauguration to demand he find photos of the crowd to prove how big it was. (New York Times)

More than a decade ago, Democrats in Congress, including Sen. Barack Obama, offered varying degrees of support for legislation to build a border fence separating the US and Mexico. (Boston Globe)

Trump’s team floated the idea of a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for the border wall before walking the idea back as “one of many” potential revenue streams. (U.S. News & World Report)

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona criticizes a $36,700 EPA grant to a nonprofit called Greenagers in Great Barrington as a waste of money. (Berkshire Eagle)


Investment managers are signing up for Twitter accounts so they can track in real-time the unpredictable tweets from Donald Trump that can send markets spinning in one direction or another. (Boston Globe)


Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy announced it will drop its English, music, and theater majors at the end of next year in order to focus on its mission as a Christian college. (Patriot Ledger)

Charles Wall, president of Massasoit Community College in Brockton, is retiring after 15 years in the office. (The Enterprise)


Researchers are looking into a possible connection between opioid use and memory loss. (Boston Globe)


Safr, a new ride-hailing business that will use only women drivers and service only women customers, says it will launch this spring, but it may run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. (Boston Globe)


The Ipswich River is starting to recover from its summer drought levels. (Salem News)


More than 200 sex offenders whose last address was in Boston have not registered their current address, as required by law. (Boston Herald) CommonWealth looked at the problem with “society’s lepers” several years ago and the difficulty in monitoring homeless sex offenders.

Police say a trio was using the Shriver family home in Hyannisport, unbeknownst to the Kennedy family wing, as a staging area for a fentanyl distribution ring. (Boston Herald)


Top Trump advisor Stephen Bannon declares the media is “the opposition party” and, in a gloating interview with the New York Times, said it and other legacy news organizations should “keep its mouth shut.