Thursday, April 8, 2010

Senate Approves GOP Salary Cap Proposal for Quasi-Public State Agencies on 35-2 Vote

Seeking to provide more transparency and accountability to the state’s taxpayers, the Senate today approved a Republican-sponsored amendment to curb excessive salaries at the state’s independent authorities.

The amendment prohibits quasi-public agencies from paying any employee a salary that exceeds the Governor’s, which is currently about $143,000 a year. It was adopted on a vote of 35-2 as part of a larger bill that reorganizes the state’s economic development agencies, many of which are quasi-public entities.

“This amendment will impose some much-needed financial controls and accountability on these agencies, which often tend to fly under the radar and operate out of the public eye,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei. “For too long, these agencies have functioned as a kind of ‘shadow government,’ and it’s about time we cast some light on them so the public will know how their tax dollars are being spent.”

Tisei noted that more than 50 independent authorities currently exist in Massachusetts and employ close to 15,000 people. Last year, more than 1,000 of these employees earned over $100,000 in salaries. In some cases, salaries at these agencies have exceeded $200,000 and even $300,000.

The amendment allows for salaries higher than $143,000 to be paid, but only if the agency in question can justify the pay differential in writing. The Secretary of Administration and Finance would also need to sign off on the higher salary before it could take effect.

The economic development bill now heads to the House of Representatives for further action.

Be sure to check out the media coverage of the salary cap proposal from the Boston Herald and WCVB-TV Channel 5.