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MI Senate panel talks public employee benefits

By Laura Weber, Michigan Public Radio Network



The state Senate is expected to spend this week debating government reforms that could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars. But the measures require tough-to-reach super-majority votes in the Legislature.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says he is focused on reversing a three-percent pay raise for state employees.

"If you want to maintain stability in the state at a time of crisis, you don't go around handing out pay increases," he says.

But Bishop would need to convince all of his fellow Senate Republicans, plus four Senate Democrats to vote for the freeze - and he's not sure all of the votes are there.

Another controversial government reform would require teachers and public employees to pay at least 20% of their health care benefits. That would need a constitutional amendment and voter approval in November. Many public employees say they already pay enough for their benefits. But Bishop says the state can't ignore more than $600 million in savings to taxpayers.

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