Judges' Car Give-Back Spreads

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The state's appellate judges have officially joined Supreme Court justices in giving up their taxpayer-funded vehicles as the state faces a financial crisis.

Chief Judge William Whitbeck of the 28-judge Michigan Court of Appeals said Wednesday that appeals judges met Tuesday and agreed to voluntarily relinquish their cars. Several judges weren't at the meeting and will have to make their own decision, Whitbeck said.

State Supreme Court justices, appeals judges and some of their staff members get vehicles that can be driven for work and personal use, a perk dating to the 1960s. Because vehicles are part of judges' compensation, judges say they must be given up voluntarily.

On Monday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor announced that the high court's seven justices would turn in their vehicles at the end of May.

Turning in the leased cars could affect a tiny fraction of the overall state budget, about $400,000, but Taylor and Whitbeck agree it has symbolic significance.

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