2 PERCENTERS: The pay commmission at work.
The Independent Citizens Commission
ratified a 2 percent pay increase for all elected state officials and judge
s, except for the lieutenant governor.
It acceded to Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin's request
that his office be
exempted from a pay raise. He cited state budget constraints. That prompted some discussion.
Commissioner Mitch Berry
said the group was independent and its decisions operated outside the normal budget process, but he said it couldn't avoid taking some politics into account. He referred not only to Griffin but also to a letter the commission heard from Sen. Keith Ingram
, the Democratic minority leader. He urged no pay raise for legislators because of the "fragile" state of the budget and because it was a citizen legislature and he feared increasing pay would"devolve" it into a full-time job.
Commissioner Barbara Graves
said any debate on whether legislative or lieutenant governor jobs were part-time was outside the group's power. She said,"This is not a significant increase. It is a cost of living increase. It is deserved by everyone equally."
She also noted that House Speaker Jeremy Gillam
and Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang
had told them two years ago that the jobs WERE full-time effectively. She noted they receive pay, retirement, and expense reimbursement.
Commissioner Chuck Banks
said he concurred with Graves. But then Chairman Larry Ross
said since Griffin made the request as an officeholder, it should be considered, particularly given the "precedent" of leaving the office out of pay raises granted two years ago. In the end, all four commissioners voted for 2 percent raises for all save Griffin's office.
Said Banks: "We don't need to force a raise on officers if they think it's unnecessary for whatever reason."
There was no reconsideration of the earlier decision to hold judges to a 2 percent raise, despite the Arkansas Supreme Court's request for an 11 percent raise.
The Commission decided to begin deliberations next year in April to have time to consider state budget and other pay decisions before embarking on official pay. This year, about half of state employees are getting a 1 percent COLA. Others are getting varying amounts on account of a restructuring of classified jobs. There are also some merit pay possibilities.
STATE PAY AS APPROVED TUESDAY
Governor: $141,000 $143,820
Lt. Gov.: $42,315 $42,315
Atty. Gen.: $130,000 $132,600
Secy. of State: $90,000 $91,800
Treasurer, auditor, land cmsnr.: $85,000 $86,700
Legislators: $39,4000 $40,188
House spkr./Senate pres. $45,000 $45,900
Supreme Court chief justice: $180,000 $183,600
Supreme Court justices: $166,500 $169,830
Court of Appeals chief judge: $164,000 $167,280
Court of Appeals judges: $161,500 $164,730
Circuit judges $160,000 $163,200
District judges $140,000 $142,800
Pros. atty. Div. A $152,000 $155,040
Pros. atty. Div. B $129,200 $131,784