Friday, March 6, 2009

Republican efforts are worth every penny

The Boston Herald reported Friday that every Republican in the State Senate receives at least $15,000 on top of their salary because they are considered members of the leadership team. How does that work? Apparently, there are five members of the minority party's leadership team. Since there are only five Republicans in the Senate, they all get big bonuses:
The state Senate’s five lone Republicans, spearheading a new campaign against the Democrats’ wasteful spending, are raking in more than $80,000 a year in taxpayer-funded stipends, each claiming a leadership title - even though they have nobody to lead.

All five members of the anemic Senate minority caucus boast a top-tier post, including a minority leader, an assistant minority leader, a “third assistant minority leader,” a minority whip and an assistant minority whip....

Tisei gets $22,500 on top of his $61,440 salary. Assistant Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester) gets a $15,000 stipend in addition to his $58,237 salary, as does Third Minority Leader Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield).

Minority Whip Robert L. Hedlund (R-Weymouth) and [Scott] Brown [(R-Wrentham)], as assistant minority whip, both get $15,000 tacked onto their $61,440 salaries.

Tisei said his caucus led by example when they refused a 5.5 percent pay raise earlier this year, but he argued his members earn their stipends.
Now, you might think that the Republicans are being hypocritical in taking $15,000 leadership stipends when there are literally no followers, but I have it on good authority that the members of the leadership work hard at their leadership positions. I recently came across a transcript of an earlier caucus meeting held in a statehouse phonebooth conference room. As you can see, the leadership takes its jobs very seriously:

tiseiMinority Leader Richard Tisei: The meeting of the Republican Caucus will come to order. On today's agenda, discussion of whether or not to accept the automatic 5.5% raise in salary. In my opinion, we should reject the raises. I'll turn the floor over to the assistant minority leader for his view. Senator Tarr?
tarrAssistant Minority Leader Bruce Tarr: I agree, we should reject them.
tiseiThanks Bruce. Let's see what the third minority leader has to say, Senator Knapik?
knapikThird Minority Leader Michael Knapik: Ditto, Senator.
tiseiExcellent. Senator Hedlund, the leadership has decided that we should oppose the raise, can you whip up the votes we need? I'd like to make this unanimous if we can.
hedlundMinority Whip Bob Hedlund: Sure thing Mr. Leader. Senator Brown, you work on whipping up senators whose names begin with B or K. I'll work on the H's and the T's.
brownAssistant Minority Whip Scott Brown: Will do, Bob. Senator Knapik, will you stand with us in opposition to the raises.
knapikOf course, Senator Brown. You're a very persuasive assistant whip. I was wavering there for a moment.
hedlundSenator Tarr, are you with us or against us?
tarrYou drive a tough bargain, Bob, but I will stand with the caucus.
hedlundThanks Senator Tarr. Mr. Tisei, your vote is very important to the caucus. Will you join us in opposing the pay raises?
tiseiI'll be happy to stand with you, Senator Hedlund.
hedlundOK, Scott, Including my vote, I've been able to get three votes in support of our position, how did you do?
brownI got two, including mine.
hedlundGreat work, Senator! By my calculations, the entire caucus will be on our side! Let's report back to the leadership...Third Minority Leader Knapik, I am proud to announce that by our count, the entire Republican Caucus supports the leadership in its opposition to the pay raises. Please pass on the good news.
knapikYou continue to impress me, Senator Hedlund...Assistant Leader Tarr, I've been informed by our whips that we have unanimous support for leadership's position.
tarrFantastic news, Senator. I continue to be amazed at how well this year's caucus has been able to stick together. I'll let the Minority Leader know right away...Mr. Leader, by the count of the whips and the report of the third majority leader, it looks like we have unanimous support. We will all be rejecting the automatic raises.
tiseiThank you all for your support. I'm proud that every member of the Republican Caucus has decided to stand with me on the side of fiscal responsibility. The commonwealth cannot afford to be paying its legislators an extra $3,000 in this time of economic difficulty. And I want to give a special note of thanks to my five-man leadership team. Without your work in keeping the caucus together, this vote would never have been possible. If there is anyone who deserves to receive a $15,000 leadership stipend, it's the four of you. Congratulations on a job well done.
tiseiNow, if there is no further business, I will entertain a motion to adjourn. Rush will be on in a couple of minutes and I'm sure you all want to get back to your offices so you won't miss any of his show.

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