July 11, 2014
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:
Pursuant to Article LVI, as amended by Article XC, Section 3 of the Amendments to the Constitution, I am returning to you for amendment Section 27 of House Bill No. 4001, “An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2015 for the Maintenance of the Departments, Boards, Commissions, Institutions and Certain Activities of the Commonwealth, for Interest, Sinking Fund and Serial Bond Requirements and for Certain Permanent Improvements.”
Section 27 increases the salaries of the District Attorneys by $22,718, and, by extension, increases the salary of the chief counsel of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) by the same amount. I support the purposes of this section. These public servants protect public safety and play a critical role in our criminal justice system.
This section, however, does not address the salaries of Assistant District Attorneys or staff attorneys at CPCS, whose daily advocacy is the foundation of our criminal justice system. These dedicated public servants deserve a salary reflective of their indispensable contribution to the Commonwealth and the fair and equitable dispensation of justice in our courts. At present, though, they earn far less than their counterparts in comparative jurisdictions.
For these reasons, I recommend that Section 27 be amended by striking out the text and inserting in place thereof the following text:-
SECTION 27. (A) Section 15 of chapter 12 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 4, the figure "$148,843" and inserting in place thereof the following figure:- $171,561.
(B) (1) There shall be a commission to study the salaries of assistant district attorneys and staff attorneys of the committee for public counsel services. This study shall include but not be limited to: (i) the salary structure of prosecutors and public defenders in Massachusetts; (ii) the salaries of assistant district attorneys and CPCS staff attorneys in the commonwealth in comparison to other jurisdictions; (iii) the funds needed, if any, to address inadequate salaries.
(2) The commission shall be comprised of the following members: the secretaries of administration and finance and of public safety and security, or their designees, who shall serve as co-chairs; the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means, or their designees; the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on public safety; 1 member of the senate to be appointed by the minority leader; 1 member of the house of representatives to be appointed by the minority leader; 1 representative of the Massachusetts Bar Association; 1 representative of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association; and 1 representative of the committee for public counsel services.
(3) The commission shall file a report detailing its work, including its findings and any legislative recommendations, with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate not later than November 15, 2014.