Immodest Proposal: Double the Bums' Pay

By Jason Schwartz | Boston Magazine |

As his first act of 2011, Governor Deval Patrick cut the annual pay of Massachusetts legislators by $300, saying he wanted to keep their salaries in line with the state’s median income. But here’s the thing: We shouldn’t be cutting salaries in the State House. We should be doubling them. A Massachusetts legislator’s base pay is $61,440, or about a third of what a first-year associate makes at a good law firm. That won’t attract top talent. Have you wondered why half of Beacon Hill studied at Suffolk Law and not at Harvard, BC, or BU?

So we can keep complaining about the senator who stuffed bills down her bra, or the ex-speaker who (cough) allegedly took cash payments, or the lawmakers who packed the probation department with in-laws. Or we can admit that we’ve got bums because we’re paying for bums. Raise the salaries and better candidates will follow. This isn’t about rewarding lame politicians. It’s about ensuring they get replaced by better ones.