I'm Your $250-Thousand Woman

Look, I cannot believe it either.

But, if you take the $50-million it costs to run the Legislature every year, and divide it by 200, which is how many Senators and Representatives you have, it means I'm a $250,000 woman.

According to Primary Source, which is a research outfit in Boston, and an article in the new (and good) weekly Beacon Hill News, it costs the taxpayers of Massachusetts some $50-million a year to keep the legislature in business.

How does this break down? Well, everyone knows, each legislator--Senator or Representative--earns $47,000. With, of course, the unemployment, taxes, and related expenses that all employers pay.

So, where are the rest of the bucks?

Well, someone has to protect us. So there's money for court officers. And, the pages, the guys you see sitting in the front of the Chamber, ready to bring copies of votes, messages, phone calls.

To keep us legal, there are House and Senate Counsels. As in lawyers, legal staff. We're either more in need of counsel in the House, or maybe because there are more of us, but the House Counsel budget is more than the Senate's.

And we each have an aide. I have one.

Well, actually, the Representative from the Cape and Islands automatically gets two. But I'm not jealous. Driving the Turnpike 200 miles a day is easier than commuting from Nantucket.

Most Representatives have one. Once you get into leadership, you get another. Committee chairs get a staff of four, or five. And Senators get four. Their districts are four times larger than ours. One isn't enough. I'm sure your Senator would tell you four aren't enough. It's easy to get behind in constituent calls, answering letters, etc. And, no, we don't have secretaries, either.

We each get an intern for eight weeks each summer, and that comes out of the budget, too. It's $300 a week for eight weeks. Apply early.

There's some money for office supplies. We're talking staplers and paperclips here, folks. File folders, pens and pencils. Copy machines, too. But Representatives buy our own business cards and pay our own phone bills. We buy our own postage stamps and pay for the nice letterhead with the State Seal on it.

The budget also includes money to televise our sessions. You only get to see the well, down in front of the House Chamber, and the Speaker's platform. But it costs you $500,000 a year. Be sure to tune in and get your money's worth.

We look at some 8,000 bills a year, and have to pay to print all of them. As well as the daily Calendars (what we're going to do) and the Journals (what we actually did).

It only costs you $22,000 to run the electronic roll call machine, which frankly hasn't been working very well this year.

We have a Chaplain. He opens each session with a prayer, and is really a neat guy. Catholic, of course. He gets paid $17,450.

Well, you get the idea. It does add up. So next time you call a politician worthless. Remember. We're not.

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