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Commission Extends Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners

LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Action in Lansing clears the way for healthcare benefits to be extended to domestic partners of most state employees.

The Michigan Civil Service Commission voted Wednesday to extend state-paid health insurance coverage to same-sex partners or other adults living with some state employees, despite objections raised by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration over the measure’s potential costs.

The Snyder administration objected to the expanded coverage Wednesday, saying it could cost more than the $6 million per year originally projected. Michigan’s state government faces an overall $1.8 billion shortfall for the budget year starting Oct. 1, and Snyder and lawmakers are looking for cost savings.

“Right now I’m factoring in one of the most important elements which is cost,” says State Employer Jan Winters. She doesn’t know exactly how much it will cost, but her argument fell on deaf ears as the Civil Service Commission voted 3-to-1 to extend these healthcare benefits.

Benefits would kick in Oct. 1 for several state employees. The revised definition of those eligible to get benefits includes individuals of any gender who have lived with an eligible state employee for at least a year. The benefits could be extended only to one other adult, but that adult’s children also would be eligible for coverage.

About 1200 civil servants, mangers in the government are upset that the commission has found the money to extend the benefits to unrelated housemates of state workers, especially since a 3-percent raise for these managers was recently turned down.

(Copyright 2011, WWJ Newsradio 950. All Rights Reserved. The AP contributed to this report.)

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