BOSTON — When she handed over the gavel last month, Sen. Harriette Chandler took a roughly $10,000 cut to her annual pay rate. The reduction would have been more had it not been for a $35,000 stipend attached to a new title recently bestowed on the Worcester Democrat.
As president, Chandler had been paid at an annual rate of a little more than $160,000. Now she will take home $152,700, counting base pay and stipends.
The new Senate President Karen Spilka's annual pay will be just under $160,000, up from about $148,000, according to the treasurer's office.
The first order of business for the Democratic-controlled Legislature at the January 2017 start of the two-year session was to pass a controversial package of pay raises for committee chairmen and legislative leaders. Stan Rosenberg, who resigned from the presidency in December, helped steer the pay raise bill into law over Gov. Charlie Baker's veto.
The $62,500 base pay of lawmakers is tied to increases and decreases in the median income of Massachusetts residents, but the stipends offered for different positions in the Legislature mean their take-home pay can far exceed that of the average Bay Stater.
As Senate president, Chandler received an $80,000 stipend under the new law, and she took the additional $20,000 for expenses, including her commutes from Worcester. An Ashland Democrat, Spilka qualifies for $15,000 in expenses.
After she resigned from the presidency on July 26, Chandler was appointed vice chairman of the Education Committee, which comes with a $5,200 stipend; chairman of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy, which comes with a $30,000 stipend; and attained the new position of Senate president emerita. That last position, which was not specifically included in the pay raise law, will earn her $35,000 as it is considered a floor leader position, according to a spokesman.
The Senate Committee on Ways and Means chair, which carries a $65,000 stipend, was held by Spilka but is now officially listed as vacant. Spilka has said Vice Chair Sen. Joan Lovely would oversee and review all legislation moving through Ways and Means for the remainder of 2018, but without serving as chair.