by Max Brantley
(e)(1) The salaries of the positions under subsection (d) of this section:
(A) Shall not be subject to appropriation by the General Assembly; and
(B) Shall be paid from the Constitutional Officers Fund or its successor fund or fund accounts in the amount determined by the independent citizens commission.
(3) Upon satisfying (e)(2)(A)(i)-(iii) of this section, the independent citizens commission may file the adjusted salary with the Auditor of State.
(4) An adjustment to a salary shall be effective ten (10) days after it is filed with the Auditor of State.
Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association
Arkansas Hospital Association
Arkansas Medical Society
Arkansas Pharmacists Association
Arkansas Podiatric Medical Association
Arkansas State Dental Association
Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas
Arkansas Community Colleges
Altria Client Services Inc.
Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield
Arkansas Realtors Association
Realtor Trade Association
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Express Scripts, Inc
Insurance Auto Auctions
Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP
LeBonheur Children's Medical Center
MCNA Health Care Holdings LLC
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Oaklawn Jockey Club
Property Casualty Insurance Associaton of America
Plains Pipeline, L.P.
Rural AR Telephone Systems
Rave Mobile Safety
SAP Public Services, Inc
Stephens Production Company
Superior Senior Care
Unisyn Voting Solutions
Wilson & Associates PLLC
Arkansas Judicial Council
Big River Steel
Dear Citizen's Commission:
I am writing today with a concern about an upcoming issue before you: legislative pay. I understand the recent passage of Amendment 94 calls for legislators to receive an increased salary. I have no issue or challenge to an incremental pay inrease for legislators. However, I do have an objection to legislators' per diem.
I am a State employee as well as a taxpayer. As a State employee, I must follow the GSA table for reimbursement amounts. As a State employee, I am not allowed to claim per diem for meals unless I spend the night. As a State employee, I am only allowed to claim the exact amount of my expenses and I must produce receipts when I claim per diem. As a State employee, I am not allowed to claim per diem on meals when the purpose of my travel (meeting, conference, etc.) provides a meal. Looking at the list of "Scheduled Activities" on the daily calendar, there are breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on a near daily basis for legislators. As a State employee, I am not allowed to claim per diem on alcohol. There should be a required sign-in sheet at each of these "Scheduled Activities" and if a legislator attends, they should not be allowed to claim the per diem.
As a taxpayer, I agree with the above rules I am required to follow. I think rules, accountability, and receipts keeps State employees honest and good stewards of tax dollars. Therefore, I am HIGHLY OFFENDED that our legislators are claiming a daily per diem on travel, lodging, mileage, and meals when they are in fact not traveling, not lodging, and are not out ANY expense.
Theft. This behavior amounts to nothing less than theft. When legislators are NOT out any expense but are claiming a per diem they are in fact stealing from the taxpayer. This is my objection. Therefore, when you meet to discuss legislative pay, please adopt new rules requiring legislators to submit original receipts for their meals, lodging, and a mileage log showing the distance traveled. Also, please only reimburse them for actual out-of-pocket expenses.
I believe my request is not only reasonable, but should not even need to be requested. We are at a time when public trust of our elected officials is at a historic low. The public is at a point where they think "Why bother being engaged in the process? Our elected officials are only out for themselves." Please give the public a reason to believe otherwise.