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HELENA — A Republican legislative leader says the highest-paid state salaries need to be cut back to better match the incomes average Montanans make.

State Sen. Dave Lewis of Helena says his proposed ballot initiative would cap the top salary at 200 percent of the state's median household income. To start, that would be about $84,000.

He told the Senate Finance and Claims that state salaries have grown at a faster rate than the rest of Montana.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer mocked Lewis' plan late last year since Lewis himself used to be a high-paid state employee. Opponents say the plan is to rile voters with class warfare.

The bill would exempt higher education and judges. It would affect 240 employees and save the state about $1 million per year.

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