Representative Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) and Representative David Torrisi (D-North Andover) announced today that the House of Representatives unanimously overrode Governor Romney’s veto of line item 1599-6901, Health & Human Services Salary Reserve. The provision will provide $20 million to increase the salaries of approximately 30,000 health care and human service workers across the Commonwealth.
Representative L’Italien stated: “I am thrilled that the House of Representatives stepped forward to provide direct care workers with a modest salary increase in order to help retain and attract qualified workers. As a former direct care worker and home care case manager I know first hand the hard work and dedication exhibited by these individuals.”
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts contracts a majority of community-based social and human service programs to non-profit vendors. Human service contracted employees on average are paid lower wages than state workers. “Direct care workers reside in our communities serving our children, our disabled, and our elderly. These workers deserve wage parity,” stated Representative Torrisi.
The salary reserve was put in place in 1990’s to address historically low salaries for direct care workers that service Executive Office of Health and Human Services clients. Under the terms of the FY 2005 budget, $10 million of the $20 million would be allocated to increase compensation for personnel earning $25,000 or less. The remaining $10 million would be allocated to increase compensation for personnel with current earnings between $25,001 and $40,000.
“The actions of the Legislature demonstrate our commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of underpaid direct care workers, while also mitigating high turnover of staff,” said Representative Torrisi.
Governor Romney’s budget proposal did not contain any money for the salary reserve. Both the House and Senate included the $20 million funding level for the reserve in their final budgets and preserved the allocation in the conference final document. Governor Romney vetoed the reserve last month.
“Overriding Governor Romney’s veto will help bring continuity and stability to an industry that is increasingly finding it difficult to provide services to those individuals most in need,“ concluded Representative L’Italien.