No More Free Rides

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In order to help with the budget deficit, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor called for his colleauges to give up their state vehicles. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed, and will turn them in at the vehicle and transportation services office. Chief Taylor wasn't done. He's calling for the states appellate judges to do the same.

"They will be restricting all state vehicles to only business milage," said Chief Judge William Whitbeck of the Michigan Court of Appeals. "That has ended the debate."

Chief Judge Whitbeck was appointed ot the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1997. He says he uses his vehicle to make business trips at least once a week. According to Whitbeck, in the big picture, appellate judges giving up state vehicles is relatively small.

"For our court in this fiscal year-- the savings will be about $54,000. That obviously is not going to balance the state's budget."

Between the Supreme Court's office and the Court of Appeals, the state will save more than $420,000 a year. Whitbeck believes it was only a matter of time before a change was due.

"We are facing some very very tough times...I agree while this issue is very much symbolistic, none the less it is an issue that resonates.

Interestingly enough, new legislation was introduced Monday to end free cars for judges. The Justices may have voluntarily handed over their keys, and others may follow their lead. Not because they want to, because they must.

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