Michigan Bill to Make Public All Executive Branch Salaries Clears First Hurdle


A Michigan bill that would require every executive branch department and division to post the salary and benefit information of their employees unanimously cleared its first hurdle Thursday.

House Bill 5015 easily cleared the House Oversight Committee and is now on its way to the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

Under the bill, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget would be required to make public on the state’s website the “function, contact, and employee salary information for each executive branch department and each major division or sub-unit within the department.”

“This information must be accessible to the public at no cost,” the bill adds.

According to Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Township), sponsor of the bill, residents seeking to obtain salary information “must go through a burdensome Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process in order to receive it.”

“Having this information readily available up front removes the response time and effort needed to fulfill these individual requests and will free up government departments to serve people more efficiently,” he said in a statement.

Berman believes that his bill would “make state government more accountable to the taxpayers who fund it,” pointing out that the Michigan House already voluntarily makes public its salary information.

“It’s a good government practice,” he said. “This is a state that ranks low in terms of public access to information. I am leading efforts to change that. Bringing all state employees under this same framework will give people easy access to information on where their money is going and what it’s paying for.”

Various news outlets and non-profit organizations frequently compile databases of executive branch salary information. Since, as Berman points out, this information can only be accessed through a FOIA request, these databases are often out of date and difficult to maintain.

A 2017 salary database from MLive found that the state of Michigan employed more than 47,000 people that year. Michigan Capitol Confidential reported that the highest-paid state employee in 2017 was the top investment officer for the Department of Treasury’s Central Payroll Agency. He earned a salary of $377,137.

The Detroit Free Press obtained salary information for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s cabinet at the beginning of her term. The highest-paid member of her cabinet is State Board of Education Superintendent Sheila Alles, who earns a salary of $216,240.

Gov. Whitmer receives a salary of $159,300 plus a $54,000 expense allowance.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].







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