By Gintautas Dumcius
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — A new special commission studying the compensation of public officials is expected to issue its report and legislative recommendations by early to mid-December.
The state budget section that authorized the commission’s creation over the summer called for drafts of any recommendations for legislation to be submitted by Sept. 30, though the commission intends to issue the final report in early to mid-December, according to its website.
Ira Jackson, dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston and former state revenue commissioner, is chairing the Special Advisory Commission on Public Officials’ Compensation, which has already met twice and will meet next on Oct. 3.
Two public hearings are planned: Nov. 6 at the State House in Boston and Nov. 14 in Springfield.
The commission is tasked with studying the compensation of the state’s six constitutional officers and its 200 state legislators; comparing their pay with their counterparts in other states and the private sector; and looking at the mechanism for biannual adjustments made to the base pay of legislators, based on median family income. The budget section also directed the state comptroller to provide the commission with all records of compensation that it requests. The commission is charged with examining direct and indirect forms of compensation, including base salaries, stipends, general expenses, and per-diem allowances.
Other commission members include Cathy Minehan, the dean at the School of Management and former president and CEO of the Boston Bank; Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation; J. Lynn Griesemer, executive director of the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts; Chris Kealey, deputy director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable; and Mary Ann Ashton, co-chair of the Acton-area League of Women Voters.
Patrick appointed Griesemer, Ashton, Widmer and Jackson, according to the commission’s website. Auditor Suzanne Bump appointed Minehan, and Secretary of State William Galvin picked Kealey.
Patrick’s Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor is an ex-officio member of the commission; Undersecretary Scott Jordan is serving in his place.
The commission met twice in September, and will hold public meetings every second Friday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 225 Franklin St., where the UMass President’s Office is located.
The commission’s website will include testimony, documents, agendas and minutes of its meetings. The website is located at www.MassPublicComp.umb.edu.
Last year, Gov. Deval Patrick said it costs a lot to hold the office, but said an increase in the governor’s salary is not something that engenders support and that he would not push for a pay raise himself.
“It’s not an issue you get a lot of sympathy on,” Patrick told WGBH co-hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan in November 2013. “I’m blessed. I mean, I made a little money before I ran. My wife’s still in the private sector,” said Patrick, whose wife Diane is an attorney at Ropes & Gray.
Describing the costs of entertaining and other expenses, Patrick said, “You have to be pretty well off in order to do the job.”
Patrick said he had voluntarily foregone some of the pay he is entitled to receive. According to Open Check Book, Patrick has an annual pay rate of $137,000 per year. The governor’s salary is laid out in statute, and the constitution, with a base of $140,535 with increases or decreases based on changes to the median household income since 2001.
Patrick noted that judges’ salaries were increased in the latest state budget, and said that had been backed by the business community and private attorneys. Judges salaries were increased by $30,000.
Mike Deehan contributed reporting.