fb-pixel Skip to main content

Pay package includes raise for Suffolk register of deeds

Suffolk register of deeds Stephen Murphy’s salary would check in at more than $142,000 if the legislature’s pay hike package is approved.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File 2014

Hidden deep in the huge pay hike package that Beacon Hill leaders are jamming through the Legislature for themselves are a slew of salary increases for court clerks and assistant clerks — and even for an old political hand, Steve Murphy, the Suffolk County register of deeds.

Murphy’s salary is never actually mentioned in the bill. But his salary — and only his among the state’s 21 registers of deeds — would jump by $19,700 to more than $142,000 if the proposal is approved.

Maura Doyle, another longtime Suffolk County political figure who is now the clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, would also get a little-noticed pay raise: Her salary would increase from $153,523 to close to $167,000.


Doyle and Murphy — neither of whom could be reached for comment late Tuesday — are just two of scores of court employees across the state whose pay is set as a percentage of judges’ salaries. So when judges get raises — as they would in the new legislation — these other employees do too.

The total cost of the bill — which includes pay raises for legislative leaders, constitutional officers, court personnel, and judges — would be as much as $18 million when fully implemented over the next 18 months, according to legislative leaders.

The legislation, released late Monday and fast-tracked for the governor’s desk this week, contains salary increases for judges whose salaries are automatically used to determine the pay levels of the court personnel.

Somehow, in a long-forgotten State House deal, a Suffolk register of deeds apparently persuaded the Legislature to peg the register’s salary at 75 percent of the salary of an associate justice of the Superior Court.

Those justices, who last received pay hikes in 2013, would receive $25,000 raises in four incremental steps over the next 18 months under the bill, going from $165,097 to $190,087.


Doyle’s salary is tied to the pay of the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. She gets 81.57 percent of Chief Justice Ralph Gants’s salary, which would go from $181,239 to $206.239.

How her salary became linked to the chief justice’s is also forgotten political lore. But one of her predecessors, John Powers, the late South Boston Democrat and Senate president in the early 1960s, was known for cutting deals with his former colleagues at the State House.

They will see their salaries fatten as part of an 18-page bill that Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo are pushing through the Legislature.

The legislation would raise Rosenberg’s and DeLeo’s salaries from $102,500 to $142,500 and give huge increases to those lawmakers in leadership posts, including committee chairmen and vice chairmen.

The legislative raises alone are expected to cost close to $1 million. House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey estimates the annualized cost of the entire package will be between $12 million and $18 million, according to the State House News Service.

The legislative hikes, as well as raises for the governor and constitutional officers, were proposed in 2014 by special commission created by the Legislature. Based on its recommendation, Attorney General Maura Healey, who is paid about $130,500, and State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who makes $128,000, would see their salaries rise to $175,000. The salaries of Secretary of State William F. Galvin, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and State Auditor Suzanne Bump would go to $165,000.


The governor’s salary would rise from $151,000 to $185,000 — though Governor Charlie Baker has said he and Polito would not accept the raises. But the Republican governor, who has worked to build good relationships with the Democratic leadership, has remained silent on whether he will sign the bill when it gets to his desk.

The legislation has yet to stir the strong outrage that has historically emerged when legislators try to give themselves raises. Part of that can be attributed to the public attention drawn to other major news events — the inauguration of Donald Trump and the New England Patriots’ victory Sunday, which landed the team in the Super Bowl.

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.