SOCC didn't recommend hiking legislators' $71,685 salary.
The Legislature, on SOCC's recommendation, cut by 10 percent the salary of the state's top four statewide elected officials -- as well as their own -- in 2009 as a reflection of the tough budgetary times the state found itself in at the time.
The lower pay went into effect in 2011 and has stayed at the level since. Supreme Court justices were not cut at that time, but they haven't received a pay increase of any kind since 2002.
By restoring the salaries to those levels, and if the Legislature goes along with the recommendation, the Governor's pay would go from $159,300 to $177,000, the Lt. Gov. will go from $111,510 to $123,900 and the Secretary of State and Attorney General would both go from $112,410 to $124,900. By restoring that pay, those are increases of 11.1 percent.
The justices' 10 percent increase would take them from $164,610 to $181,071.
The Legislature would have to adopt a concurrent resolution by a majority in both chambers to have the increases go into effect, and if so, they would go into effect for the legislative session immediately following the next general election.
The legislative chambers take turns introducing the concurrent resolution, and for these recommendations, the Senate would need to take the lead. Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive) spokesperson Amber McCANN said Meekhof would review the recommendations with his caucus in the coming weeks.
House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt), via spokesperson Gideon D'ASSANDRO, said Friday Leonard would look at the SOCC recommendations and give the Legislature time to review them. D'Assandro added Leonard had previously opposed increases for the Legislature, so "he is glad to see SOCC agreed with him on that point."
Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY, via spokesperson Laura BIEHL, came out against the pay increases, saying, "Michigan hasn't had a shortage of candidates wanting to hold these statewide roles." It wasn't clear if Calley opposed the increases for all of the officials mentioned.
Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE spokesperson Andrea BITELY said Schuette would "prefer we cut taxes before we raise salaries."
Gov. Rick SNYDER, however, came out in support of adopting the SOCC recommendations, spokesperson Anna HEATON said Friday, adding that "knowing that it takes effect in 2019, which is 10 years without a raise for those officials."
Secretary of State Ruth JOHNSON said the proposed increase is "something for the Legislature to consider" as she would not be affected by it since she terms out before it would go into effect. Johnson spokesperson Fred WOODHAMS said she hasn't made a recommendation, however.
SOCC member James HALLAN, also president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association, said Friday it's difficult for lawmakers to vote on their own compensation.
Hallan said lawmaker salaries, compared to other states, are doing well, but the executive branch salaries compared to other states are falling behind.
"We're trying to have a dash of reality with a dash of comparable data, trying to be fiduciaries and recognize the political reality of the situation we're in," Hallan said.
Since 2009, the Legislature has only affirmatively adopted the biennial SOCC recommendations once, and it was for the 10 percent pay cut.
On raising salaries for the executive branch positions, Hallan said the "fear" is that those positions, if not adequately compensated, are only attractive to those who are wealthy or who are young and trying to make a name for themselves.
While none of the executive branch positions recommended for an increase responded to SOCC's invitation to comment, Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) Justice Stephen MARKMAN appeared before the commission Friday to give a thorough argument as to why the justices' pay should be increased.
In a statement released after the SOCC determination, Markman said, "I am pleased the Commission has responded positively to our arguments for ending the ongoing 17-year pay freeze for the Justices. The Court now looks forward to the Commission's report and to the Legislature's response."
During the meeting, Markman cited the increases in the cost of living, salaries of other state Supreme Court justices, salaries of other state employees, salaries of federal judges and the salaries private attorneys make.
The chief justice also asked that SOCC assist the MSC in "communicating to the Legislature" its recommendation.
"We are very much in need of both a favorable recommendation and for your strongest expression of support for those recommendations - why such an increase is deserved and well-merited - to the final decision-makers in this process, the elected representatives of the people," Markman wrote in his prepared remarks.
Markman referenced how the previous SOCC contingent had advocated for the bill that decoupled lower court judge salaries from the justices and instead attached them to the pay increases of certain state employees.
SOCC member Mary Kay SHIELDS considered pushing for also recommending that the justices begin receiving the pay bumps scheduled for other state employees, but after some discussion that was left out of the final motion.
Hallan suggested a "blue ribbon committee" be appointed to look at how compensation is "fairly recognized." Hallan said in the case of the Supreme Court, it's a case that the system is not working and that it needs to be revisited.
The increases recommended would also restore the cuts made to the expense allowances, which were also cut in 2009. Those increases, if approved, would take the Governor's allowance from $54,000 to $60,000 and the Lt. Gov's from $18,000 to $20,000.
The Secretary of State and Attorney General do not receive expense allowances, and neither do justices, although a previous version of this story inferred the justices do receive them.