In today’s Boston Globe article titled “Patrick takes aim at agency salaries” Governor Patrick has decided to take aim at the salaries of some of the top executives in 42 independent state agencies. I applaud this move as being a good first step but Patrick needs to go further.
Base salaries for the chiefs at the agencies – not including benefit and severance packages – range from $72,100 for the administrator of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority to $299,000 for the president of MassDevelopment, according to the most recent data available. Twelve of the 42 agency heads earn more than $200,000 annually. Twenty-four earn more than the governor.- Globe
While the article doesn’t completely compare these salaries of those in the private sector, on spokesperson, Stephen P. Crosby, had this to say:
“As a generalization, they were about industry norms just in terms of their base salaries, and didn’t seem to be wildly out of line with similar positions in similar states,” Crosby said – Globe
Comparing these salaries with similar positions in other states is probably not necessarily a good comparison as these positions are more than likely government appointed positions as well, and, as here in Massachusetts where it isn’t necessarily what you know, but who, they very well could be patronage jobs.
Perhaps we also need to question the fact there are 42 independent agencies in the first place. Are these all needed? Could privatizing them be a better alternative? Is there duplication of effort within these agencies with other state agencies?
Ranging from six to 6,000 employees, they include 15 regional transit authorities; 12 larger authorities such as the MBTA and the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport; and 15 specialized and often obscure agencies like the Massachusetts Technology Development Corp., which doles out venture capital.- Globe
Could all these regional transportation agencies be merged in with the MBTA? Or better yet, if they were privatized would they operate more efficiently without government interference? These are the issues which seriously need to be looked at.
However, every step in cutting spending is a positive one. Patrick still needs to go further and look at the non-independent agencies as well. The State of Massachusetts is looking at the same situation which is happening currently in other states, with out of control pensions and healthcare costs for state workers, and these must be addressed.
Governor Patrick is trying but not hard enough, to trim the budget. It’s time to get serious.