Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states in which the Legislature effectively never adjourns. That handful just happens to include some of the worst-governed, highest-taxed, biggest-spending, and/or most heavily-regulated states in the nation — among them, California, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The Legislature's year-round sessions also come with extravagant salaries. Massachusetts lawmakers are paid more than their counterparts in 44 states — their base salary is $62,548, but they also receive tens of thousands of additional dollars in the form of expense allotments and "leadership" bonuses. For a bunch of characters who don't actually construct, produce, improve, grow, or manage anything, it's an awfully sweet deal.
In most of America, this would never be tolerated. Legislators in normal states convene for just a few weeks or months each year, hammer out a budget, pass whatever legislation is needful, and go home. In some truly enlightened states, the legislature is in session for only a few weeks every other year. I remember a note I received in November 1995 from the late Barbara Anderson, who for years was the Bay State's most tenacious taxpayer advocate. She wrote from Nevada, marveling at something she had seen during a visit to the state Capitol in Carson City. In the empty House chamber, a notice was posted at the Speaker's rostrum: "Next session, January 1997."
Yet Massachusetts persists in the delusion that legislating is a full-time job, requiring "professional" lawmakers with staffs, offices, and full-time salaries. That superstition is continually being contradicted by the Legislature's subpar performance. . .