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Police bonus limits sought
Travaglini proposes cutting system's costs

By Rick Klein, Globe Staff, 5/18/2003

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini is pushing for a major overhaul of the Quinn Bill police bonus system, sharply limiting the amount of extra pay officers would be able to earn under the oft-criticized program.

The proposal would begin to phase out the current system, where officers receive annual bonuses of between 10 percent and 25 percent of their salaries for college degrees, bringing significantly more than $10,000 annually to many officers. The Senate plan would have officers who earn degrees after the end of this year receive fixed annual bonuses of between $6,000 and $8,500, depending on their education levels, instead of the percentage incentive.

Travaglini said the move would contain the program's costs over time, though officers who already are receiving extra pay through the Quinn Bill or who qualify before Jan. 1 would not be affected. The state's savings in the next fiscal year would be negligible, while the savings would grow in future years, as officers who receive bonuses on a percentage basis retire.

''This is a program that's escalating significantly in cost,'' Travaglini, an East Boston Democrat, said in an interview to be broadcast today on the WBZ-TV (Channel 4) program ''News Conference.'' ''Just like anything else, we've got to bring it under control.''

The proposal, which will be included in the Senate Ways and Means Committee budget being released on Wednesday, ties Travaglini and his leadership team to reform in an area that Governor Mitt Romney and House members have been unwilling to touch. It sets up a certain clash with the state's police chiefs and labor unions, who have been fiercely protective of Quinn Bill benefits and have fought off previous attempts at curbing the education bonuses.

The move by the Senate could also bring a confrontation with Romney, who has said he believes the state is getting its ''money's worth'' from the Quinn Bill, and supported full funding for the program in his proposed budget - despite backing deep cuts elsewhere in state government. In his campaign for governor last year, Romney was endorsed by the Massachusetts State Police Association and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

The Quinn Bill, enacted in 1970, allows cities and towns to offer education incentives to their officers and have half the costs picked up by the state. About 12,000 local and state police officers qualify for additional pay in Massachusetts, with the total cost to taxpayers statewide exceeding $100 million annually.

The law has come under fire over the years, with cases detailed where officers earned bonuses for classes at police stations and union halls, or even accruing credits simply for ''life experience.'' Government watchdog groups have questioned its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool, noting that the program remains unique to Massachusetts more than three decades after being established.

Still, proposed limits to Quinn Bill funding have been turned back in the Legislature in recent years. Two years ago, the House Ways and Means Committee proposed changes similar to those the Senate is now discussing, but rank-and-file members reversed the committee's recommendation. The same thing happened earlier this month, when members restored a $2.7 million trim in Quinn Bill state funding that the committee had called for.

George J. DiBlasi, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said any proposal to rein in the current police bonus system would force cities and towns to increase their base pay for officers, or risk being unable to attract qualified candidates to the profession. He said that replacing percentage incentives with flat pay would save the state a relatively small sum while harming the morale of officers and the quality of police work.

''If this is taken away or limited, the cities and towns are going to have to go back and raise salaries by 20 percent,'' said DiBlasi, a retired Norwood police chief. ''We wouldn't want to see a percentage replaced by a flat rate.''

Backers of the Senate initiative acknowledge the political difficulties in steering their proposal toward law. But they expressed confidence that the full Senate would go along when the budget is debated later this month, since lawmakers are discussing deep budget cuts in so many areas of state spending. In fiscal 2004, the state is facing a gap of $3 billion between revenues and the amount of spending that would be needed to maintain current services.

''I don't think anything is sacred,'' said state Senator Robert A. O'Leary, a Barnstable Democrat. ''There is a sense that, given the budget gap this year - the fact that we're shutting people off from Medicaid, we're cutting services, we're going after higher education - that it's not unreasonable to begin to say, `This is a program that costs a lot of money. We can't sustain its growth.'''

O'Leary filed a bill last month that would entirely eliminate police-education salary incentives going forward, and make higher-education degrees a prerequisite for being hired as an officer in Massachusetts. The Senate budget proposal does not include those aspects of his proposal, though O'Leary said he hopes it will be just the first in a series of moves aimed at controlling Quinn Bill costs and improving the quality of policing in the state.

In those communities that offer Quinn Bill benefits, the Senate proposal would authorize $6,000 annual bonuses to officers who earn associate's degrees, $7,500 to those attaining bachelor's degrees, and $8,500 for graduate degrees, such as master's or law degrees. The current bonus system increases base pay by 10 percent for associate degrees in criminal justice, 20 percent for bachelor's degrees, and 25 percent for graduate degrees. The Senate would also prevent additional communities from receiving Quinn Bill reimbursements until 2005.

Senate leaders also want to codify recent regulations set forth by the Board of Higher Education, designed to tighten up standards and ensure that officers only receive extra pay for degrees earned at reputable institutions. The House budget includes a similar legal change and Romney supports such a move as well, to prevent what he has called ''diploma mills'' from being used by officers just so they can earn more cash.

The entire interview with Senate President Robert E. Travaglini will be shown on The Boston Globe/WBZ ''News Conference'' at 11 a.m. today on Channel 4.


This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 5/18/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
 

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BartPD said:
Senate leaders also want to codify recent regulations set forth by the Board of Higher Education, designed to tighten up standards and ensure that officers only receive extra pay for degrees earned at reputable institutions. The House budget includes a similar legal change and Romney supports such a move as well, to prevent what he has called ''diploma mills'' from being used by officers just so they can earn more cash.
Just what the hell in the world is wrong with that??? What exactly is a "diploma mill"? I could see if it was some earn-your-degree-at-home sort of thing, but they're talking about schools like Western New England, etc.

They better start putting a cap on all careers which require a college degree then, just to make sure people don't make too much money! They should begin with law schools... :sb: :BM:
 

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The "diploma mills" they are referring to, are the ones where you do not have to do any work to earn your degree. As far as law schools are concerned, you may not like the by-product, but remember, when one graduates, they help make money for whoever they work for. Law enforcement is not in the business of actually making money. If there is a way to make money, for the department in substantial amounts, this would not be an issue. Law enforcement in the public sector is completely subsidized by the taxpayer!
 

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Anyone know where I can find a good "diploma mill"? I'm sick of all this damn studying and effort. I hate politians who add new words to dictionaries.
 

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You know what really kills me about this? They are concerned that officers who earn their degrees through these so-called "diploma mills" are making too much money, yet the Boston Public Schools are pushing kids through the system just so they'll graduate and 1. take care of an overcrowding problem in the schools and 2. make it so the same teachers and administrators don't have to deal with the uneducated thuggish little bastards anymore.

And the worst part of it is, that same dumb retard from the BPS that can't read or write to save his life gets to take the Civil Circus exam, gets extra time to take it because they're stupid, and gets a job over me! :BM:
 

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Politician word of the 90's (later adopted by law enforcement): "Pro-Active"

No such word...might be added with the rest of the slang for illiterates.
 

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About ten years ago I was dating a woman who was an adjunct professor in the continuing Ed division at a woman's college in cambridge, MA. Some of you might know which school I mean.
One semester she was teaching a Master's level course in a health care topic. This course was taken by health Care Administrators, like middle to upper managerial persons at hospitals, nursing homes, etc. Every student in the class was an adult professional taking the class to further their career.
She assigned a research paper to each of her students, due at the end of the semester which was going to be worth either 25 or 30 percent of the grade.
When the papers came in I helped her grade them. I put sticky notes on the last page of the report with my comments and what I thought the grade should be. Some of these Master's level papers were barely high school senior/ College Freshman quality, with misspelled words, poor sentence structure, etc. She would take the paper that I gave a "C+" and bump it to an "A-" "B's" became "A"s.
I asked her how she could grade such poor papers so highly and she said
"If we mark too hard people get discouraged and drop out. The school loses money."

So I guess my point in a long post is that this goes on in lots of fields, and lots of schools. Aren't we lucky to be singled out.
 

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If anything, they should make it more competitive to get the Quinn Bill. Forgive me for not being sympathetic about this one. But, If you go to a school say like, OOh U Maryland College Park for CJ (One of the top 3 in the nation along with Northeastern (GO HUSKIES) and SUNY Albany) and it doesn't count towards for the 20% bonus, but going to the basement of the Patrolman's Union for a WNEC Extension Degree (I'm not knocking WNEC, I went there my freshman year) I have a problem with that! Let's not get all upset about this one, but those of us who work in the CJ Field know that there are schools that do not require you to put in the same level of effort for a diploma. Extension schools are a good idea, but, when your "Prof" is your partner who just obtained his "Masters" the same way you're trying to, it's not ethical. Do I think that the pay scales should be re-adjusted, no not at all, if you have the degree, get the percentage, but make it fair. A degree from Stanford Law should carry more weight and get the 25% instead of some "BS" (not the cetification in science:shock: ) degree you got in the basement of your Police Union Hall. I know guys who received credits for going to foxwoods, no papers had to be written, just going for an "On the Job Observation". Holy SHIT! I WISH I COULD HAVE TAKEN THAT COURSE! For you guys and girls who currently get the incentive for going to schools like this, good for you! You saw an advantage and took it. Should it be taken away from you, Hell no! However, seeing the current situation in this state, it's time to reorganize the cash cow. You can see why the general public is all over this bill.
 

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Whatever, it's obvious you just believe what the media tells you. I've attended a satellite college as well as a "real" college; it ain't that much different, especially when you're talking continuing ed. If the legislature wants it this way, then fine, but they will pay in the end. Unions will start bargaining for 20% raises to make up for the Quinn Bill! If you don't believe it, just wait. Most Ma unions bargain based on other surrounding PD's in the region and compare their pay WITH Quinn. Without Quinn, Mass doesn't stack up. Let's see, you list your occupation as "policy analyst", how much police work does that entail? Should a cop pay 30,000 a year for his degree? Does that make sense? Only if his salary is $90,000. If we should all have law degrees then we should get paid like lawyers, and don't give me the "Assistant DA's don't make crap" argument, because we all know being an Ass't DA is just a pit stop before making the $$$ in private practice.
 

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AS I said before, satellite campuses are a good thing. UMASS Lowel, great satellite site in Boston, where you actually do work. WNEC in the basement of Union Hall, pretty much a "MILL". Yes cops should get paid, no doubt about it. As for believing what the media says, Brother, I work for a major PD and monitor the budget first hand. Congrats on being a proud alumni of both a "real college" "a satellite campus" since there "aint" a difference. They both must be proud of you.
 

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Hey now!

Better they revamp Quinn than the alternative! Again, there are many state/municipal people joining the unemployment line as we speak. Sometimes you have to give a little in this moment, to preserve something in the future.

As far as the "Diploma Mill" issue, just let them establish some minimum standards and be done with it. It will prevent this from being an issue in the future. I don't believe that the old absentia degree is as rampant as it was 10-20 years ago, however, the perception is there and must be destroyed!!!!!!!
:doctor:
 

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"As for believing what the media says, Brother, I work for a major PD and monitor the budget first hand. Congrats on being a proud alumni of both a "real college" "a satellite campus" since there "aint" a difference. They both must be proud of you."

I wrote "ain't" on purpose, you pompous idiot, kind of like how you wrote "congrats". Now, you said you "work for a major pd", does that mean you are a Police Officer? Don't dance around it. What position does a police officer work where they monitor the budget, other than Chief or an admin Captain?
 

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Oh surprise!
somebody got their feathers ruffled again!
=D> :A:
 

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ALRIGHT both of you go to your rooms!! Cut the crap. [-X

No matter how accurately the media is portraying the facts of the current Quinn setup, reality is that Beacon Hill is more likely to cave in if their constituents are calling for an overhaul of the system. Unless someone has a great plan to convince the general public that the Quinn Bill is more than just a "cash cow", this is a battle we are going to lose eventually.

The state is short on cash and some things are going to get whacked. Let the Quinn benefits get revamped instead of eliminated, and maybe we can save some jobs in the process.

Would you rather have your 20% pay bonus reduced slightly, or be collecting 20% of your normal paycheck in the unemployment line? Look at the big picture.

-Mike
 

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Who gives a flying f*** and a rolling jelly doughnut where they hold a college course? Right now I am in a Reserve Academy class that is being held in the basement of the Waltham Police Department headquarters... does that mean that my training there is any less than the Reserve Academy at the Reading Academy???

As I've said before, if you earn your degree "at home," or you went to a school that advertised it's degree programs on television when Jerry Springer is on, then I don't think that should qualify. However, if you go to an accredited school, be it a community college or university, then I think you should get the $$$! Remember, not everyone can afford to attend a school where the tuition ends up costing you $129,000 in student loans you have to repay after you earn your degree (not a shot at you, tomahawk). Not everyone has the time to devote all their attention to school either if you are coming back as an older adult, already working full time as a police officer or whatever and/or has a family as well.
 

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tomahawk said:
Would you rather have your 20% pay bonus reduced slightly, or be collecting 20% of your normal paycheck in the unemployment line? Look at the big picture.
-Mike
First of all, the "bonus" system is a HUGE reduction, not a slight reduction. Also, I believe that the poster that 'cordasco' is not even a police officer, so should probably not be making judgements on what we should or shouldn't give up.
 

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First of all, the "bonus" system is a HUGE reduction, not a slight reduction. Also, I believe that the poster that 'cordasco' is not even a police officer, so should probably not be making judgements on what we should or shouldn't give up.
JSG,
Take your head out of your *#@ and relax for a minute. I am not a cop, never claimed to be one, hope I do become one very soon. But, I guess if you're not a cop, you can't have an opinion. I guess I'll go back into my little civilian cubby and crunch numbers. The State is in bad shape and there were a lot of loopholes in this bill. So what's the problem with revamping this one? I do think police officers should be compensated well for their thankless jobs. What other profession do you have to worry about getting shot at on a daily basis (except teachers:) If you read the last post, you would have scene that in my opinion, if you currently receive the bill, you should be able to keep your bonus. In order to ensure that this incentive does what it's suppose to do it needs to be revamped. If everybody can get a degree from Joe Blow U, and obtain the %, the well will run dry. Keep it, but make it more challenging to get.

All I'm saying is if and when I get the opportunity to get on the job I would like for my degree to count for the extra 5%. It is in CJ, I did work hard for it, as do people who go to "REPUTABLE satellite CAMPUSES, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, ETC" However, because it wasn't in "New England" it wouldn't count. Does this seem right? Are the only qualified CJ schools in New England?
 

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Officer Dunngeon said:
Remember, not everyone can afford to attend a school where the tuition ends up costing you $129,000 in student loans you have to repay after you earn your degree
hell, no! I agree with Cordasco, you should HAVE to have a degree from f***ing Northeastern and pay $30,000 a year in tuition for 4 years to get a $40,000 a year job. That makes sense.

Hey Cordasco, sorry your degree from whatever pretentious CJ school you attended doesn't count towards Quinn, that doesn't mean you should go around kicking other school's bags in. Maybe you should have thought of that BEFORE and gone to a school in Massachusetts if you intended to be a cop here.
 
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