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Massachusetts Legislature approves raises for state judges

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June 12, 2013

By Nick Katers

Massachusetts

BOSTON, Massachusetts: A bill increasing annual pay for state judges and court clerks is part of the current budget negotiations in the Massachusetts General Assembly. The House and Senate approved a $30,000 increase in the annual salary of associate judges and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court justices over the next three years. The bill would also trigger a 22% increase in annual salaries for clerks and assistant clerks. State law requires that clerks receive 81.57% of a judge’s salary while an assistant clerk receives 77% of the same salary. Governor Deval Patrick supports the increase and will sign the raises into law when a final budget is approved later this month.[1]

Senator Brian A. Joyce (D) sponsored the bill in response to delays in judicial pay increases over the past seven years. “It is critical that we have a strong and independent judiciary that attracts the best and the brightest,” said Joyce.[2] The last raise for state judges came in 2006 when the Legislature overrode Governor Mitt Romney’s veto of a 15% pay increase. Massachusetts ranked 48th in terms of average adjusted salary for state judges and 30th for average salary for Supreme Court justices according to a 2012 report from the National Center for State Courts.[3]

Joyce’s bill would start pay increases in June 2014 with a $15,000 boost with a $10,000 increase the next year and $5,000 in the final year. The Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court would see a 23% pay increase over the current salary of $151,239 while a clerk would earn $134,691 per year under the new plan. A comparable bill in the House would initiate raises in January 2014. The House approved its version of the bill with a 154-0 vote in April while the Senate approved the bill as part of a 35-3 vote in late May.[1][2] A conference committee is currently negotiating differences between the budgets as well as the disparities between judicial pay raises.

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