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Published: Thursday, 6/11/2009

Michigan panel votes to save 100 trooper jobs

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LANSING Lawmakers in Michigan voted yesterday to save the jobs of 100 state police troopers scheduled to be laid off in weeks, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm s budget director said he would oppose the move because it would make next year s budget deficit worse.

Legislation approved by the Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee would move money from a fee assessed Detroit s casinos to the state police.

The Republican-controlled Senate plans to restore funding today so the troopers can keep their jobs.

It s important for us to keep the public safe, said House Appropriations Chairman George Cushingberry, Jr., (D., Detroit).

Many of the troopers to be laid off June 28 graduated in December.

Sen. Valde Garcia (R., Howell), who helps set the state police budget, said it makes no sense to cut police officers to save $1.7 million when the state spent $8 million training them.

That s not fiscally prudent, the senator said.

Yet budget director Bob Emerson, who said he had not discussed yesterday s developments with the governor, said he would resist attempts to avoid the trooper layoffs.

All of this only serves to exacerbate the problem in 2010, Mr. Emerson said. No one enjoyed the cuts that had to happen in the state police budget and other parts of the state budget. But we believe it was all necessary to balance our budget in the long term.

In May, Ms. Granholm issued an order to trim about $350 million from the budget that ends Sept. 30.

The measure was OK d by the House and Senate Appropriations committees, which are having second thoughts about trooper layoffs included in the order.

Something else will be cut in order to preserve public safety, Mr. Garcia said. He declined to elaborate.

The House panel also voted yesterday to restore money so live horse racing dates are not eliminated this year and there is funding for state fairs.

Mr. Cushingberry said he found the money for state police troopers, horse racing, and the fairs in a fund that the three Detroit casinos pay $30 million into per year. Most of the money is allocated to license and regulate the casinos, but some is to expand and renovate state office space.



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