by Max Brantley
Key line, in paragraph 6, of today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article on coming state budget discussions, quoting Gov. Mike Beebe:
The state Department of Correction and the Department of Community Correction could get more funds under his blueprint, but “it doesn’t look like” his budget proposal for fiscal 2013 will include funds for cost-of-living raises for state employees, he said.
I've lost track. Is this the third year with no general pay increase for state employees? But there also have been no layoffs, at least until the 36 in the Forestry Commission this week.
Notably, the governor also says there won't be a $15 million fund for "merit" pay increases for select employees as there is this year. A lot of work-a-day state employees won't be sorry about that. I get a lot of complaints about how that money has been split up among the more fortunate and connected.
There are some 56,000 state employees, counting higher education. But universities operate independently and, tuition increases being ever ready for paying for spending needs, they have means of providing sweeteners for the phalanxes of associate chancellors, vice chancellors and deputy vice chancellors. Sometimes faculty members even get a tiny bit. University of Arkansas employees, for example, got 2.5 percent pay raises in 2011 while state agency employees got nothing. Football coaches, too, are generally exempt from frozen pay worries.