Pay raises should be held in abeyance for state officials

The panel that’s empowered to recommend pay increases for elected state officials including the governor, lieutenant governor and members of the State Legislature and judiciary is meeting to consider whether those folks should see their pay increased this year.

Because it’s been 15 years since an overall pay hike was last approved, the easy move here would be to suggest the State Officers Compensation Commission OK a raise. We’re not going to do that.

That doesn’t mean we don’t recognize that elected and appointed officials aren’t working hard. We do, but so are a lot of people who are packing Bridge cards and working three minimum-wage jobs.

Commission officials said this week that mountains of data must first be reviewed and analyzed, information relating to the state’s economy and budget projections.

In addition, panel members plan to compare how Michigan officials’ pay compares to other states of comparable size and circumstance. The group, which met Thursday in Lansing, will meet again May 19. At that time, presentations will be reviewed from state officials who wish to press their cases in person.

According to a story in The Detroit Free Press, the governor now gets a salary of $159,300, with a $54,000 expense allowance, which is down from a $177,000 salary, with a $60,000 expense allowance in 2002. The lieutenant governor gets $111,510, with an $18,000 expense allowance, down from a $123,900 salary with a $20,000 expense allowance in 2002.

State lawmakers receive a $71,685 salary, with a $10,800 expense allowance, down from a $79,650 salary and a $12,000 expense allowance in 2002, The Free Press reported.

Clearly, officials are due. But that’s not the issue. Not hardly.

While improving, glacially, the economy is still a work in progress. Too many people remain mired in poverty, unable to improve their situations. Too many people go to bed without dinner in this state, an utter disgrace in this day and age. Too many people go to bed, without a bed.

To Lansing lawmakers and others impacted by the lack of raises, we say this: Set partisanship aside and fix the problems in this state that need to be fixed. Improve roads and bridges, make education more inclusive, feed the poor, minister to the needy, care for the sick.

Perhaps then, the State Officers Compensation Commission, the people of Michigan and The Mining Journal editorial board will be more amenable to your raise issues.

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