April 21 (UPI) — Democrat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that she and her top staff would take pay cuts to do their part to tighten the state budget during the coronavirus pandemic.
Whitmer told reporters she will take a 10 percent pay cut, while her top staff will shave off 5 percent of their pay during the COVID-19 economic crisis.
“I’m going to lead by example,” the governor said. “I know that times are tough and that we as a state are going to be confronting a tough budget as a result of the economic shutdown.”
Whitmer’s salary in 2019 was $159,300, according to a survey by Business Insider.
As of Monday, Michigan health authorities confirmed more than 32,000 cases of coronavirus and nearly 2,400 deaths. On Monday, the state confirmed 575 new cases.
The youngest death so far in Michigan was Skylar Herbert, age 5, of Detroit. Whitmer praised the child’s mother LaVondria Herbert, a Detroit police officer, and her father, Ebbie, a city firefighter.
“They’ve been on the front line and they’ve served with honor and integrity,” Whitmer said Monday. “They did not deserve to lose their child to this virus. Nobody does.”
State health agencies were working to ramp up testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity, health officials said Monday.
Gov. Whitmer said current stay-at-home orders are scheduled to end May 1.
Seven midwestern governors, include Whitmer, are working together to hammer out a data-driven process to reopen the region, they announced last week. These include Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.
Whitmer faced criticism by protesters in the state capital, Lansing, in recent days, some of whom brought confederate flags and open-carry weapons to protest the Michigan stay-at-home orders. The Michigan Conservative Council, organizers of the event, said Whitmer’s measures to slow the coronavirus violated constitutional rights.