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Chelmsford Reps Understanding of Salary Sacrifice During Hard Economic Times

A drop in the state's median household income led to the salary reduction

Massachusetts lawmakers will get a pay cut this year, in accordance with a state law that links legislators’ salaries to the state’s median household income.

Governor Deval Patrick’s office announced the drop in wages this week.

“As required by Article CXVIII of the Amendments to the Constitution, for the purpose of adjusting the base compensation of members of the General Court, we have ascertained, from the federal census American Community Survey and reports of average weekly wages, that the median household income for the Commonwealth for the preceding two-year period decreased by 1.8 percent,” Patrick said in a Jan. 2 letter to State Treasurer Steven Grossman.

The pay cut amounts to about $1,000 annually from legislators’ current base pay of $61,132, the Associated Press reported.

The governor himself will be impacted by the pay cut, as will the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor and state senators and representatives.

Officials’ salaries also dropped in 2011, by 0.5 percent, according to the AP report.

Here in Chelmsford, State Representative James Arciero had already voluntarily declined pay raises during his first few years in office, but he still understands this cut.

“I do believe that the current process, implemented by the voters in a 1998 referendum vote that links the legislative pay level to the median household income of Massachusetts citizens, is the fairest and least political method we have to determine compensation for public officials," said Arciero. "As with all Massachusetts families and residents, I will have to continue to do more with less until the economy gets back on track.”

Representative Tom Golden, who also repreesents parts of Chelmsford, was understanding when it came to the change.

"I'm completely fine with it, it comes back to realizing that many still do not have jobs, have had to take pay cuts, or have not seen pay raises recently," said Golden. "Tying our salary to Massachusetts' economic indicators is a pretty good way of making sure we're working hard."

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