Last week, I raised that suggestion that the four remaining Republicans in the State Senate come January should return their “leadership” bonuses to the state coffers since, as a caucus of only four – in which all four membership fill the four GOP leadership roles – there are, essentially, no caucus leadership duties. There was healthy discussion, with many suggesting that the Republican State Senators follow through on this suggestion, even if only to stand out as opposing wasteful spending.
Over the weekend, Michael Levenson highlighted the bonuses at stake in a column about the mini-power struggle for the Minority Leader role:
The contest features a cordial heir apparent promising to work across party lines, a fiery insurgent candidate vowing to reinvigorate the GOP, and two senators waiting in the wings, each ready to serve as kingmaker or – if duty calls – as the king himself.
But even the losers of this not-so-titanic battle will come off well. While the next minority leader will get a $22,500 bump in pay and a bigger office with additional staff members, his three underlings will inevitably serve in the august ranks of leadership. They will divvy up the roles of assistant minority leader, minority whip, and assistant minority whip, each of which carries a $15,000 pay increase.
“I refer to it as ‘everybody’s a winner,'” Senator Michael R. Knapik, a Westfield Republican, told the Salem News. “It’s kind of like when you go to the carnival and spin the wheel and everybody wins every time.”
First, a little note to Senator Knapik: it’s extremely unseemly when you refer to your essentially-do-nothing five-figure bonus as a carnival prize for which “everybody’s a winner” (except the taxpayers). Given that the GOP caucus’s focus will likely largely be one of fiscal conservatism, it’s quite off-message, to say the least.
That said, seeing it in print, it kind of reinforces my message. The four-member Republican caucus will receive a total of $67,500 in bonus money on top of their salaries, “leadership” bonuses for doing literally nothing besides simply being there, given their scant numbers.
It also reinforces the idea that the tiny GOP caucus could make a statement well above their numbers in resonance if they opted for fiscal conservatism in this situation – where it affects not our wallets but their own. They have a unique opportunity to put their money where their mouths are.