Michigan redistricting commission asks state to audit its finances

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has requested the state conduct a financial audit of the group following the inaugural redistricting cycle under the new system. 

The commission voted unanimously Thursday to request an audit of the group’s finances and financial procedures from Oct. 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022. 

“We’re going back to the Legislature to ask for more money and their first response is going to be: Have you been responsible for what you’ve spent to date?” Commissioner Rebecca Szetela said. “I think if we had this audit done, it pre-assumes the question and provides an immediate response.”

The financial audit request approved Thursday came as the commission faces a roughly $1.2 million shortfall and has requested the Legislature increase its budget. 

“Unfortunately, the commission will experience a budget shortfall in fiscal year 2022, primarily due to the litigation costs associated with the maps that were approved on December 28, 2021,” then-commission Executive Director Suann Hammersmith said in a letter to the Legislature.

Last month, the commission reversed a 7% pay raise the commissioners gave themselves in February. The reversal docked the commissioners pay from nearly $60,000 to $55,755 a year. The constitutional amendment that created the commission requires members to be paid at least a quarter of the governor’s salary, or about $39,825 annually. 

The reversal of the raise came amid pushback to the plan since the commission’s work has greatly decreased since the 13-member panel adopted maps for Congress, state House and state Senate in December. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

The Associated Press contributed.