by Max Brantley
A new opinion from the attorney general says that Arkansas elected officials may NOT choose to relinquish recently adopted pay increases. They can, of course, take them (and pay taxes on same) and then donate an equivalent amount to charity.
I have a question in now to the governor's office. You'll recall that Gov. Mike Beebe signed the pay raise bill, but said he wouldn't take his bump from about $84,000 to $87,000. Other constitutional officers said they'd keep the money. Notably, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter alone among the constitutional officers said he'd take the pay raise but give the difference to charity. His appears to be the correct route under the law for those not wanting to capture additional income. Some other legislators said they, too, would devote the difference to charity.
UPDATE: No problem, says the governor's office. Matt DeCample says the governor will take the pay raise, pay the taxes and calculate a rebate to the state (not to charity) necessary to offset any benefit from the raise. (You could get into some accounting minutia on this issue but I think I'll leave that to others.) DeCample adds that those contributions to the state likely will be made during the course of the year.