When the 2011-2012 Massachusetts State Senate convenes in January, Republicans will see their numbers reduced from five out of forty to just four out of forty. Some think that such a small minority of members can’t unilaterally achieve anything in the body. But I disagree.
There is at least one thing that the four Republican State Senators can do – singlehandedly – to save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
In the State Senate, members get a bonus on their salary for holding and performing a “leadership” role (e.g. Senate President, Minority Leader, etc.). Republicans have four such “leadership” positions: Minority Leader (currently the retiring Richard Tisei), Assistant Minority Leader (currently Bruce Tarr), Minority Whip (currently Robert Hedlund), and Assistant Minority Whip (currently Richard Ross).
I could be mistaken on the actual figures (please, RMGers, correct me if I am), but I believe that the salary bonus for Minority Leader is at least $22,500 a year, and the other leadership roles bonus at at least $7,500 a year. All told, the four Republican leadership bonuses total at least $45,000.
That’s at least $45,000 in taxpayer dollars to be “bonused” to the four Republican State Senators for what? Leading and “whipping” a caucus of just those four Republican State Senators! The only people the Minority Whip has to whip are the Assistant Minority Whip, the Minority Leader, and the Assistant Minority Leader!
You get the point.
Recognizing that “leadership” bonuses for four State Senators who are “leading” a caucus of just those four State Senators seems to be an egregious use of taxpayer dollars, I’d submit that the Republican caucus in the State Senate would be wise (both from a policy standpoint and a political standpoint) to pass on their leadership bonuses. Let that money stay in the state treasury since the bonuses are not really deserved in any substantive way, anyway.
If the State Senators passed on those bonuses, it could be a rallying cry for smarter and more streamlined government spending. Just a thought.
(On a related note, of the four 2011-2012 Republican State Senators, only Michael Knapik lives over an hour – the ceiling of a reasonable commute, in my opinion – from the State House building. If Senators Tarr, Hedlund, and Ross decided not to accept their travel per diem bonuses and opted to let that money stay in the state treasury, it would demonstrate being in touch with the regular ol’ commuting folks out here in the Commonwealth who don’t get paid to commute to work.)
What do you think, RMGers?