State employee pay raises sealed

LANSING, MI – A three percent pay raise for 35,000 state employees appears to be safe. State Senate Republicans have failed for a third time to muster enough votes to freeze the salaries.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta reports.

AUDIO: Democrats and state worker unions say public employees have already agreed to unpaid furlough days and other concessions to save taxpayers money. Republican leaders say Michigan cannot afford the pay raises during a budget crisis.

Measures to try and convince teachers and other public employees to accept early retirement have already stalled. State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says without the savings, Michigan will be forced to lay off more public employees.

"You don't want to pay for them and you don't want to afford the contracts," Bishop says. "So you just get rid of em. You won't have troopers. You won't have teachers. You just won't have em because we can't afford them."

Bishop challenged Democrats to put up votes for tax increases if they won't support the pay freeze. Democrats say they're ready to support new revenue when a bill is proposed that will also get Republican votes.