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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The head of Missouri's public defender system is seeking a pay raise for the attorneys who represent low-income criminal defendants.

Public Defender System Director Cat Kelly says entry-level attorneys in her office are paid a salary of about $38,500. She says that's nearly $5,000 less than beginning lawyers in the state attorney general's office. Kelly says both should be paid the same amount.

Kelly presented figures Thursday to the Senate Appropriations Committee showing that Missouri's public defenders also typically earn less than those in all neighboring states.

Gov. Jay Nixon has recommended a 3 percent pay raise for all state employees.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer says he would prefer to give targeted pay raises to certain professions instead of an across-the-board increase.

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