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Thu March 18, 2010
Senate rejects salary freeze yet again
By Laura Weber, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING, MI – A three percent pay raise scheduled for state employees has become a constant subject of debate at the state Capitol. Senate Republicans have been pushing to block the pay raise, and now House Republicans have joined the battle cry.
Senate Republicans put the pay freeze up for a second unsuccessful vote this month, in what has become a drum beat of weekly debate. And Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says the discussion isn't over.
"I'm not giving up, no," Bishop says. "We can't afford to give up. It's $77 million we don't have. And it's our responsibility to make sure it's right in the Constitution it's our responsibility to step up and reject the pay raise."
The Legislature is constitutionally obligated to balance the state budget. With a self-imposed deadline of July 1st looming, lawmakers are scrambling to fill budget gaps. The state Senate has balanced many of its department budget proposals with the assumption the GOP can get at least three more Democrats to agree to a pay freeze for state workers. But most Senate Democrats appear dead set against the freeze, and they say people don't understand how many concessions state workers have already made to save the state money.