LANSING (AP) – Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm says neither she nor Lt. Gov.-elect John Cherry will accept a salary increase in light of the state’s tight finances.

Paul Wong

In a letter sent Monday to the State Officers Compensation Commission, Granholm said that given the budget crisis the state now faces, the pair won’t seek or accept a pay raise for 2005-06.

“She’s very aware of the fiscal problems we’re going to be facing and does not want to add to them by accepting a pay raise,” Granholm transition team spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said yesterday. “She hopes other elected officials will follow suit.”

Granholm wrote her letter as the commission began consideration of how much the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, lawmakers and Supreme Court justices should be paid in 2005-06.

“For the time being, I very respectfully urge the State Officers Compensation Commission to forgo suggesting any changes to the current compensation structure that will negatively impact the state’s budget,” wrote Granholm, now the state’s Democratic attorney general. “Thank you in advance for your sensitivity to the state’s ominous fiscal outlook.”

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R-Wyoming) sent his own letter to the commission on Monday, saying it was too soon to propose a pay increase so far in the future.

“It is premature for SOCC to issue a recommendation now about salary levels that will not take effect until 2005,” Sikkema wrote. “It is simply not possible to make a sound recommendation regarding salary levels three or four years in the future.”

The state faces a deficit of $400 million to $600 million in the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. Dettloff said early indications are that the state will have to deal with a $1.8 billion shortfall in fiscal 2003, which begins next Oct. 1.

“Given the looming budget deficit, the governor-elect feels it’s not wise to give out pay increases at this time,” Dettloff said. “To cut the budget and accept pay raises is just not fair.”

The commission held a preliminary meeting last week. A second meeting to be held this week was canceled, but the commission is expected to meet next month to issue recommendations.

Under a constitutional amendment adopted by Michigan voters in August, pay levels for the governor, lieutenant governor, Supreme Court, attorney general, secretary of state and lawmakers will be frozen until after the 2004 general election.

“Given our current fiscal situation and the change to our constitution, a recommendation to increase elected officials’ salaries would be out of step with what voters approved in August,” Sikkema said.

“Any determination the commission makes now will have no validity in light of the new constitutional amendment.”

The governor now is paid $177,000 a year; the lieutenant governor, $123,900; Supreme Court justices, $164,610; and legislators, $79,650. All but the justices receive expense allowances; legislative leaders also make supplemental amounts.

Salaries for the secretary of state and attorney general will be set by the commission beginning in 2006, but they have been set by law for the upcoming four-year term. Both offices now earn $124,900 a year and will remain the same.

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