Public sector salaries have risen at a much faster rate than private sector pay for much of the 21st century.

From 2001 to 2008, state government pay has increased 30 percent to $53,810 and local government jumped 26 percent to $42,327 while the private sector went up 17 percent to $43,833, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"It would be a good thing if money was just falling out of the sky," said Leon Drolet, director of the Michigan Taxpayers Association. "But it's not. Taxes are raised on the guy whose income only went up 17 percent for the public worker whose salary went up 30 percent. That's why it is a bad thing. It's not that wealth is being created here, wealth is being transferred."

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State workers have faced cuts due to budget issues, said one spokesman.

There are 11,000 fewer state government positions from 2001 to 2008, according to Ray Holman, legislative liaison for the United Auto Workers Local 6000, which represents state workers.

State workers held a one-hour "We Need More Workers, Not Less" rally on Friday in Detroit.

"We don't have enough bodies to get the services out," said Holman. "Do I think state employees are overpaid? No. A lot of the jobs they do are complicated. We have psychologists who work in the prisons. We have accountants, We have scientists."