Michigan redistricting commission reverses its 7% pay raise

Facing backlash, Michigan’s redistricting panel reversed course Thursday and ended a 7% pay raise the commissioners gave themselves a month ago.

The state constitutional amendment that created the independent commission says members must make at least $39,825 annually, a quarter of the governor’s salary. Commissioners voted last year to be paid $55,755 a year and, in February, approved an increase to nearly $60,000 on an 8-3 vote. They described it as a cost-of-living adjustment to account for high inflation.

The commissioners voted 12-1 to return their pay to $39,825. They drew new congressional and legislative maps late last year but continue to meet as groups challenge the plans in court.

"We represent the people. I’m a taxpayer, too. I don’t want spend any more of my money," said Richard Weiss, a commissioner who affiliates with neither major political party.

Weiss, who voted against the raise last month, echoed a Republican commissioner’s concerns that keeping it intact would hurt the panel’s request for lawmakers to allocate funding to address a budget shortfall that is attributed largely to litigation costs.

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Vice-chair Dustin Witjes, a Democrat and one of seven commissioners to change his vote, said he did so to avoid seeing the issue raised at every future meeting.