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Posted on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

Voters support public employee compensation cuts, poll finds

By Nathan Bomey

Michigan voters would support cuts to public employee compensation, according to a new poll commissioned by the Detroit news and WDIV Channel 4 and conducted by Glengariff Group Inc.


Gov. Rick Snyder said during his Jan. 1 inaugural address that there needs to be "shared sacrifice" to stabilize the budget.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The poll indicates that 52 percent of voters would support a plan calling for total compensation for state workers to be slashed by 5 percent. Some 39 percent of voters said they would oppose such a proposal.

The poll results come as Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature are expected to seek cuts to public employee compensation as part of their efforts to eliminate a projected $1.8 billion budget deficit for 2011-12. Snyder has not offered a specific proposal but has said there needs to be "shared sacrifice."

The public would also favor "changing teacher tenure rules to base it on student performance rather than the number of years a teacher has been on the job," the Detroit News said. Some 68 percent of voters approve of that concept, and 26 percent disapprove.

Snyder has said he's working on a budget proposal that he'll unveil in about two months. He has scheduled his first State of the State address for Jan. 19.

For more results on the poll, visit the Detroit News story.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sat, Jan 8, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

Godsbreath: Insults are fine... I can take them. Whene the people no longer want to pay for a protected class of govt. workers and they elect leaders to change the system... that is called democracy. Snyder won Bernero lost horribly. I think the govt. unions brutalize the taxpayers who ultimately pay their salaries. I am no longer going to be an ATM for govt. unions.


Sat, Jan 8, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

@ braggsaw So you are an unapologetic nihilist? You and your ilk are the worst threat to the republic it has ever faced. 1 in 6 as of yesterday are in poverty and you can't be intimate without terrorizing the threads with class war boilerplate. Pure predation. Pure and simple. May you know your shame.


Fri, Jan 7, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

Gee... does this mean the Detroit News and WDIV TV didn't bother to ask whether or not respondents would be happy to have Michigan discontinue special tax breaks and entitlements for corporations, or whether they would vote to support a higher state income tax rate specific to wealthy residents? The survey, however, did take the time to ask whether Michigan should be a right-to-work state (right-to-be-abused), and whether the overall level of business taxation ought to be lowered to supposedly spur employment. Clearly, this survey's intent is to help the legislature's far-right GOP majority identify vulnerable political targets when carving up existing state services and programs benefiting the poor, the middle class, and public employees. The wealthy and big business can naturally expect protection for their perks.


Fri, Jan 7, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

@stunhsif - Thank you. I appreciate it. I try to be honest and fair in what I post. Notice I said "we may have". In our firm the salary cuts were up to 50% and the people trimming was minor. A few people felt they were not appreciated with the cuts and stopped trying. Most worked hard. Sometimes in a union shop, the folks who lead the union get people to go along with a slow down.

Dog Guy

Fri, Jan 7, 2011 : 10:17 a.m.

Proposing a 5% cut allows puffing and posturing on both sides--a mock battle for the public. Having been sucking on government teat for fifty years, I assure you that nothing less than proposing a 30% cut will get any serious attention from us "public servants."


Fri, Jan 7, 2011 : 9:10 a.m.

A columnist on the cuts:


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

there are certain public services that private contractors cannot replace. -judges -police etc. But I would gladly pay for my own without the govt. acting as a middleman -trash service -composting -neighborhood plow services -arts/sculpture/culture dept. -public schools (vouchers) I would like the ability to spend my money on the services I want before the govt decides what is good for me. All all state employees are paid by the taxpayers.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

DonBee said: "If we cut pay or benefits, we may have lower productivity from existing employees and lower quality candidates in the future. If we cut employees, we will have to reduce services". I almost always agree with you Don and your wealth of knowledge and research goes way above and beyond almost anyone that posts on But I must respectfully disagree with your above statement. I work for a company that has cut pay 5% and reduced the number of workers by 8% in an effort to keep the company alive. The remaining workers have picked up the pace ( higher productivity-not lower) and the lower quality candidates were cut, the higher quality ones remain working. This is quite the opposite to which you stated above. Perhaps the difference is the fact that the company I work for is non union and if people slack off, they get fired. That could well be the difference between my company and those that work for unions in the public sector?

average joe

Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

@ Cash- How much extra will it cost the state for Gov. Snyder to live in Superior twnshp?? FYI- Did you know that the former Gov. Granholm had two "residences" in lansing that the state paid to maintain & staff, plus she had her own private residence in Northville? If the new Gov. wants to commute to Lansing, then having the state pick up the tab for gas, etc will be saving the state money compared to the expense of the excessive housing by the former Gov.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

Re "These public employees are breaking the back of the State's budget with their outrageous pay, benefits and pensions," who, exactly are you talking about. And please provide evidence for your statement.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Factually incorrect: "The public union employees do not,for the most part, make contributions to the own healthcare or retirement. That has to change as it is the source of the potential problems down the road even worse than they are now." I believe in the First Amendment, but wish the moderator wouldn't allow beliefs posted as facts.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Hey Charles I do the work of two people cut my pay 5% and I,m just doing the work of one person. how bout that service.

charles mancherian

Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

GET IT DONE, GOVERNOR! These public employees are breaking the back of the State's budget with their outrageous pay, benefits and pensions. They're the only workers in this State who have not sacrificed anything in our dismal economy of 14 % unemployment and private pay reductions. These unions have bankrupted our State.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

I agree with a2roots, not to mention kids exhibiting obstinate refusal towards authority figures in their teen years. I know I didn't give a hoot about school at times, and it wasn't my parents or my teachers fault.looking back, people like Roger Waters were probably to blame for my attitude.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

@Cash - Perception is reality for most people. What we don't have is the wording of the questions asked. So we don't know what context the question was asked in nor what leading information was in the preamble to the question. All - What I can tell from reading the Detroit News story is that there is more to the poll than the paper put in the article. It would be interesting to see the whole article. As to cuts in pay - something has to give, either more taxes, more fees, fewer employees, less pay or lower benefits. Those are the only options. So which options make the most sense to you? If we cut pay or benefits, we may have lower productivity from existing employees and lower quality candidates in the future. If we cut employees, we will have to reduce services. If we raise taxes, we are less attractive to companies that have jobs and people who can work from anywhere. No answer is a great one, but we need to find a path through this. I promise everyone will be unhappy with some of what will have to be done. The right to work states are where the job gains are, like it or not it is true. So do we want to maintain closed shops in the state and watch the job gains go elsewhere, and keep high wages for fewer and fewer people or have lower wages but more jobs? Not an easy answer either. I feel for Governor Snyder, he will have to navigate this mess.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

How many people who took this poll even know how much public employees make for what particular jobs? They hear it regurgitates over and over on talk radio and tv and they repeat it. When the legislature is part time and gets part time pay and loses their lifetime benefits then and only then, should they look at anyone else's pay. And I'm not a public employee. I just feel sacrifice should start by example at the top. By the way how much extra is it costing us for Snyder because he wants to stay living in Superior Township?


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

@average joe. You do make a good point fresh ideas could be good. But it has to be more than signing an inflated PR contract He absconded from way too many controversies during the election. They themselves, if known, would have rendered him in last, rather then first, at tally's end. So he doesn't deserve plutocratic or bust media blindly changing his diaper as this article clearly does. He and his credibility Titanic have to address such HIMSELF. The alternative he marketed during the campaigns is practically fraud when viewed in the context of the stable he has amassed of "advisors" to date. Dick Postumous? Yuk! Just keep the war party mare in close proximity. That is new ideas? He is overly indebted to the counter-republicans and doesn't seam able to swim ashore for The Great State of Michigan. I don't have the Latin mantra with me for "all the benefits of office, but none of the responsibilities", but it has been around for thousands of years.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

"Tenure based on student performance" doesn't mean all the students have to get straight A's. It would probably be based on their standardized test performance over multiple years, allowing administrators to pinpoint substandard instructors.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

The thing this article does not make clear is are we talking salary or benefits. The public union employees do not,for the most part, make contributions to the own healthcare or retirement. That has to change as it is the source of the potential problems down the road even worse than they are now.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

It's common for ignorant people to blame those who carry out the policies of those who make them. I'd love to see some who think that teaching, firefighting, policing or reparing water lines in below freezing weather is easy take on those jobs. If you want cheap labor in public service, then turn a blind eye to illegal immigration and hire them. You get what you pay for.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

State Government isn't a for-profit company and shouldn't be run like one. It is a service providing agency. Really it is. So while I appreciate Mr. Snyder's business experience, I hope he is smart enough to understand that his role is not CEO in this case and he has requirement that seem impossible at the moment because of a shrinking revenue stream. He also has to get agreement from people who don't see things his way (GOP and DEM)or he won't get what he wants. Governor is a very different position than CEO or money man. And, we can pick on our public employees all we want but I have to say the ones I know are working way more than 40 hours weeks for pay that is way under the market rate with the idea that the pension and other benefits will be worth it in the end. I don't know about you folks but I don't want the bottom of the barrel employee working for the state but that is what we'll get if we cut the benes and keep paying lousy wages for impossible work.

Matt Irelan

Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

got to agree with a2roots. The background of the student, whether it is parent involvment, or social background, or something else are such large factors that are not accounted for.

average joe

Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

@Godsbreath- " is not like he has any history of public service to rely on." You probably won't agree, but that's a good thing, because he has the advantage of the experience gained by running/leading 'for profit' companies, something 'career politicians' don't have. The public employee has, on average, quite a "total compensation" advantage over a private sector employee doing essentially the same task. I believe Gov Snyder will be concentrating on that disparity, & possibly "trim off the fat" in this area to get it more in line with private sector employees.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Tenure based on student performance? In some cases it may be easier to get performance from a rock or a pig. I know, how about we look at student performance and then correlate that to parent involvement.


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

A Gannon News "service" poll? That's the story? Where was it polled, at the luxury boxes at "The Big Chill"? The suffering and deserving disgust is uber-pandemic in people who have to pay for heat rather than for land line phones. All this story inculcates is how conspicuously happy "news" services (arguendo) are about November. Oh, the progress. Oh, the news. IF THE RICKETY SNYDER CANNOT BUILD HIS CRED' BY HIMSELF,, LET THE PEOPLE HAVE THIS TRUTH! It is not like he has any history of public service to rely on.