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Republican Reformer Proposes Solution to Governor vs. Legislature Budget Impasse
11/25/2009 – Greenfield, MA
Keith C. McCormic, a member of the Greenfield school committee, today sent a personal letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick asking him to back a salary cap for state and local government employees to help close the state budget gap without additional cuts to local aid and other vital programs. In his “concerned citizen” letter, McCormic estimated that government salary caps could save over $120 million each year for cash-strapped Massachusetts.
McCormic said that state leaders had “broken faith with the People” by not balancing the state budget before the holidays, leaving many towns uncertain about the future of state aid. He suggested that implementing his idea would demonstrate a “good faith” effort to cut costs without harming communities and vulnerable populations.
McCormic’s proposal would prohibit any governmental or quasigovernmental agency from paying any person more than the governor, who makes about $140,000 a year. He notes that he was inspired by the way that federal government employees are traditionally paid less than the President. His suggested policy would lower salaries for the state’s highest-paid bureaucrats, some of whom make more than half a million dollars each year. “It is not right to ask working class folks to submit to higher taxes just to pay government workers five, ten, or twenty times as much as they are being paid themselves,” McCormic wrote.
McCormic’s plan would also require agencies to limit their average compensation to the previous year’s statewide per-capita income, which was $48,997 in 2007. He also asked the governor to “ensure that any necessary reductions come from the highest-paid government wage earners, not from those who do the difficult work of keeping things running on the ground.” McCormic suggested that the cap could be implemented without affecting anyone but the top 5% of civil service employees.
McCormic acknowledged that the plan might face opposition, but he also pointed out that Gov. Patrick is a Democrat- as are about 90% of state legislators. “If this kind of desperately-needed reform cannot be achieved by such a powerful majority,” wrote McCormic, “then every member of the party in power needs to take personal responsibility for these decadent salaries by trying to justify to the People why their taxes should keep paying them.”
A worksheet included with the letter estimated that capping the highest-paid workers at $140,000 could save about $55 million, not counting local and quasigovernmental agencies. The worksheet also suggested a savings of over $66 million from aligning the average salaries. The numbers were extrapolated from a sample of around 3500 state employees at all wage levels. Of the sample, only about 1.4% of employees would be capped and average alignment would require roughly a 1.5% reduction in state payroll. The state government directly employs almost 85,000 workers, paying them more than $4.3 billion in 2008.
McCormic ran for state senate as a Republican in the 2008 election against Stanley Rosenberg, the incumbent Democrat from Amherst. He was later elected to the Greenfield school committee in a nonpartisan election and serves on the Strategic Planning subcommittee and as a delegate to the Franklin County School Committee Caucus. He was one of the architects of the Joint Declaration recently drafted and passed by the Caucus and many area school committees as a blueprint for locally-controlled education reform.
Sample Cost $180,891,843.85
Sample Capped $178,598,197.10
Sample Savings $2,293,646.75
Sample Size 3499
Capped Employees 48
Capped Percentage 1.37%
State Employees 84594
Sample to Whole 4.14%
Multiplier to Whole 24.17662189
Est. Cost $4,373,353,712.10
Est. Capped $4,317,901,081.87
Est. Savings $55,452,630.23 <- Savings from capping salaries at $140,000
Actual Wages & Salaries $4,306,665,000.00
Percent Deviation 1.55%
Savings Dev. High $56,311,314.27
Savings Dev. Low $54,593,946.19
Average All Sample $49,762.66
Per Capita Income 2007 $48,995.00
Difference Percentage 1.54%
Avg. Shift Cost $4,240,228,304.42
Avg. Shift Savings $66,436,695.58 <- Savings from forcing agencies to adjust average salary to meet state per capita income
TOTAL SAVINGS ESTIMATE $121,889,325.81 <- Total annual savings from both programs.