The Massachusetts House of Representatives, endorsing the budget recommendation made by the Governor, has voted a 5% increase for the Districts Attorneys for FY 2012, and also authorized a $500,000 fund to help retain experienced prosecutors.

Massachusetts assistant district attorneys are among the lowest-paid in the country. Their starting salary is $37,500, compared to $61,900 (Connecticut), $55,000 (Rhode Island) and $47,000-$52,295 (New Hampshire). They also earn substantially less than other attorneys employed by the Commonwealth, especially those who belong to the National Association of Government Attorneys (NAGE), whose starting range is $48,000 - $79,000. The District Attorneys have expressed to Beacon Hill legislators their grave concern about retaining experienced prosecutors, and cite an exodus of skilled attorneys who, frustrated by low salaries, repeat furloughs and extremely heavy caseloads, are leaving for more lucrative positions in other government agencies or in the private sector. The $500,000 retention fund is expressly geared to help their offices hold onto prosecutors with at least three years of experience.

The budget process now moves to the Senate, which is expected to release its budget in mid-May. Any difference between the final House and Senate budgets will be resolved by a conference committee consisting of three senators and three representatives.