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Redistricting panel reverses salary increase

A Howell High School grad was among seven members of Michigan’s redistricting panel to reverse a 7% pay raise they gave themselves a month ago.

On Thursday, the panel that was created by a 2018 state constitutional amendment, voted 12-1 to return their annual salary to $55,755. Among the commissioners who changed their votes was 2007 Howell High School graduate Dustin Witjes, who told The Associated Press he did so “to avoid seeing the issue raised at every future meeting.”

The commission was tasked with drawing new congressional and state legislative maps, which they completed late last year. However, they have continued to meet as various groups challenge those maps in court.

The commissioners originally earned $39,825 a year, representing a quarter of the governor’s salary. That was the formula laid out in the 2018 constitutional amendment approved by voters to create an independent commission made up of 13 members. Four of the commissioners are affiliated with the Republican Party, four with the Democratic Party and five are unaffiliated voters. Witjes, a payroll specialist from Ypsilanti, affiliates as a Democrat.

However, the commission voted last year to increase that salary to $55,755. Then in February, on an 8-3 vote they approved an increase to nearly $60,000, which was termed a cost-of-living adjustment to account for high inflation.

Other commissioners expressed concern that the raise would be detrimental to a request for the legislature to allocate additional funding to address a budget shortfall that has largely been attributed to litigation costs.

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