The Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved a bill calling for up to $18 million in annual pay raises for state legislators, elected officials and judges.
The House approved the bill by a 115-44 vote.
The bill would give legislators an increase in their office expenses budget, a moderate increase for leadership positions and committee chairs, and the largest increase would go to the state’s judges and constitutional officers.
Before the debate, legislative leaders defended the proposed salary hikes, with Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo saying the matter was "long overdue" for discussion.
DeLeo and Democratic Senate President Stan Rosenberg would earn $142,547 under the proposal, a $45,000 increase in base pay. Salary hikes would also be in store for other members of the Democratic and Republican leadership, and for the chairs of key legislative committees.
“Some of them had mentioned that they actually feel that it’s low compared to the work responsibility,” DeLeo said.
But many republican lawmakers NBC Boston spoke to disagreed and not only voted against the bill, but vowed not to take the raise.
“If the pay raise goes through, I will refund it to charitable organizations within Plymouth,” Republican Representative Dave DeCoste said.
“This is a time where we’re making budget cuts so it’s just the wrong time,” added Republican Representative Shaunna O’Connell.
But some democrats argued this is not about giving themselves a bump in pay.
“Over the last 3 or 4 years we’ve lost some really, great talented people who have gone on to make more money working in the private sector,” said Representative James O’Day, a Democrat.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's salary would climb from $151,800 to $185,000, with an additional $65,000 housing allowance. Baker says he's "quite content" with his current salary.
Baker also seemed to suggest that he may veto the measure if it also passes the senate and gets to his desk.
“We said in 2014 we didn’t think that a pay raise made sense at that point in time and I don’t see a lot that’s changed with respect to that,” Baker said.
The Senate will debate the bill Thursday. Even if the governor vetoes it, the House and Senate are on track to have enough votes to override that veto.