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THE REVERE ADVOCATE
- Friday, April 21, 2017
Page 16
~ Home of the Week ~
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THE HOUSE AND SENATE:
There were no roll calls in the
House or Senate last week.
As the first order of business
back in January, the Legislature
approved an $18 million pay
raise package including hiking
the salaries of the two leaders
whofiledthebill,HouseSpeaker
RobertDeLeo(D-Winthrop) and
Senate President Stan Rosen-
berg (D-Amherst), by $45,000
from $97,547 to $142,547. The
measure also hikes the pay of
the Legislature’s two Repub-
lican leaders, Sen. Bruce Tarr
(R-Gloucester) and Rep. Brad-
ley Jones (R-North Reading)
by $37,500 from $85,047 to
$122,547. Another provision
hikes the salaries of the gover-
nor and the other six constitu-
tional officers by raises ranging
from $30,048 to $47,083; and
hikes thepayof the state’s judg-
es and court clerks by $25,000.
The only part of the package
that applies to all 200 legisla-
tors increased the annual gen-
eral expenseallowance for each
member from$7,200to$15,000
formemberswhosedistrictsare
within a 50-mile radius of the
Statehouse and to $20,000 for
districts located outside of that
radius. Prior to this increase, the
most recent increase inthegen-
eral expense allowance was a
hike from $3,600 to $7,200 in
2000.
According to the state trea-
surer’s office, the mileage from
a legislator’s home to theState-
house is calculated “using the
standardofquickest route (time
to destination).”
The expense allowance is
used at the discretion of indi-
vidual legislators to support a
variety of costs including the
renting of a district office, con-
tributions to local civic groups
and the printing andmailingof
newsletters. Legislators are is-
sued a 1099 from the state and
are requiredtoreport theallow-
ance as income but are not re-
quiredtosubmit anaccounting
of how they spend it.
Beacon Hill Roll Call has ob-
tained the list of how much
each senator and representa-
tive is receiving as an expense
allowance under this new sys-
tem.
Wheneachlegislator received
a flat $7,200 under the old
system, the total spent was
$1,440,000. Under this new
system, the total spent will be
$3,174,052. That’s an increase
of $1,734,052.
Nine legislators decided
against taking the raise and are
still collecting only the original
$7,200. Another 136 asked for
andare receiving the raise from
$7,200 to $15,000 while 53 leg-
islators are receiving $20,000
because they said they live
more than 50 miles from the
Statehouse. One legislator de-
cided to take $9,252. Another
decidednot to takeanexpense
allowance.
The package also put an end
to legislators collecting per di-
ems which are travel, meals
and lodging reimbursements
collected by the legislators.The
amount of the per diem var-
ies and was based on the city
or town in which a legislator
resides and its distance from
the Statehouse. In 2016, 103 or
morethanone-halfof thestate’s
200 legislatorswerepaidper di-
ems totaling $278,601.
Under current federal law,
the same 53 legislators who
live more than 50 miles from
the Statehouse are eligible for
a special federal tax break that
has been criticized for years. A
1981 federal lawallows themto
write off a daily expense allow-
ance when filing their federal
income tax return. The compli-
cated systemdetermines a dai-
lyamount, ostensibly formeals,
lodging and other expenses
incurred in the course of their
jobs,whichcanbedeductedfor
every“legislative day.”
Under the Massachusetts
Legislature’s systemandsched-
ule, every day of the year qual-
ifies as a legislative day. The
Legislature does not formally
“prorogue” (end an annual ses-
sion) until the next annual ses-
sion begins. This allows these
legislators to take the deduc-
tion for all 365 days regardless
of whether the Legislature is
meeting or not. Legislators do
not even have to travel to the
Statehouse to qualify for the
daily deduction.
Theamount of thededuction
isbasedonthe federal perdiem
forMassachusetts. It varies from
year to year. The daily per diem
for legislators for 2016 varied in
different parts of the state and
is seasonal. It ranges from$162
per day to $366 per day or be-
tween $59,130 and $133,590
annually.
The 53 legislators who took
the $20,000 state expense al-
lowanceareeligible for this fed-
eral deduction because they
said they live more than 50
miles fromtheStatehouse. Each
legislatorwho takes advantage
of thisdeductionwill havepaid,
and continue to pay, little or no
federal income tax on their leg-
islative salaries for many years.
HOW MUCH EACH LOCAL
LEGISLATORWILLRECEIVEIN
EXPENSE ALLOWANCE
Here is the amount of an ex-
pense allowance each legislator
will receive annually.
Rep. Robert DeLeo
$15,000
Rep. RoseLeeVincent
$15,000
Sen. JosephBoncore
$15,000
HOW LONG WAS LAST
WEEK’S SESSION?
Beacon Hill
RollCall tracks thelengthof time
that theHouseandSenatewere
insessioneachweek.Many leg-
islators say that legislative ses-
sions are only one aspect of the
Legislature’s jobandthat a lotof
importantwork is doneoutside
of theHouse and Senate cham-
bers. They note that their jobs
also involve committee work,
research, constituent work and
othermattersthatareimportant
to their districts. Critics say that
the Legislature does not meet
regularly or long enough to de-
bate and vote in public viewon
thethousandsofpiecesof legis-
lationthathavebeenfiled.They
note that the infrequency and
brief length of sessions aremis-
guidedandleadtoirresponsible
late night sessions and a mad
rush to act on dozens of bills in
the days immediately preced-
ingtheendofanannual session.
During the week of April 10-
14, the House met for a total of
22minutes and the Senatemet
for a total of one hour and 22
minutes.
MON. APRIL 10
House11:03 a.m. to11:18 a.m.
Senate11:15a.m. to12:24p.m.
TUES.APRIL 11
NoHouse session
No Senate session
WED. APRIL 12
NoHouse session
No Senate session.
THURS. APRIL 13
House11:01 a.m. to11:08 a.m.
Senate11:02a.m. to11:15a.m.
FRI. APRIL 14
NoHouse session
No Senate session
BobKatzen
welcomes feedbackat
bob@beaconhillrollcall.com
Beacon Hill
Roll Call
By Bob Katzen