by Max Brantley
-- Video courtesy The Tolbert Report
Sure, Gov. Beebe says, he could have vetoed that pay raise bill if he didn't want the pay raise, but that just would have gummed everything up for everyone else.
Or an acknowledged master of the legislative process could have sent a message down to the legislature the day the bill was filed weeks ago asking lawmakers to amend the line with the governor's pay. But he didn't.
And he shouldn't have.
The pay for the governor's office ought to move upward as the Constitution allows so that it becomes more in line with the pay suitable for chief executive of a multi-billion-dollar organization. Beebe shouldn't have penalized future governors by holding back the periodic opportunity for a small improvement.
Beebe also should have lived with his decision to allow the bill to pass as written. He should not have come up with a Friday evening grandstand ploy because the pay raises had generated a little on-line flak that happened to center on him. The noise would have died down. He's kept the story alive and engendered ill will among other public officials who were put on the spot. Some of them need the money. King Mike, with his mansion and servants and fleet, doesn't.
3.8 percent is a pretty good pay increase in catastrophic economic times, it's true. Elsewhere in America, workers are lucky to keep their jobs, much less get a pay raise. All over the country, people are being forced to take reductions in hours, unpaid furloughs, etc. But not in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of Arkansas government.
You could argue that these jobs are underpaid relative to responsibility and to counterparts in other states. You could argue that the pay should rise by modest increments to the extent possible to become more realistic. You could. But, in these times, you should not expect much sympathy from the people paying the bills.
NOTED: Since Beebe is rejecting his pay raise, his pay will stay at $84,114. That means he'll be paid less than the Governor's Mansion adnministrator, Ron Maxwell, whose pay will rise under the Mansion Commission appropriation to $84,974.