The independent citizens commission that will set pay for state elected officials and judges gave more indications yesterday about where it’s heading on pay increases.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported discussion yesterday on pay for the seven statewide officers.
Nobody much wants to raise the pay of lieutenant governor from $42,315. Of course. It is not a job. It’s a title. One commissioner even suggested a cut. Sound thinking.
Pay suggestions for governor ranged from $110,000 to $170,000. It’s now about $87,000.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who makes $73,000, seems likely to get a big boost — talk ranged from $105,000 to $121,000. The lower end would be in line with where Arkansas should rank among the states.
The other constitutional offices — secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and land commissioner — all make about $55,000 now. There’s sentiment to move them all up substantially ($80,000 or so seems like a popular figure), but more for the secretary of state on account of duties of the office.
Chuck Banks, for example, suggested $95,000 for secretary of state, more than others wanted to spend.
The commission should take note in its deliberations that the law does not require these officials to come to work; they knew the pay when they ran; and they all have big staffs full of well-paid people who do the heavy lifting. Numerous secretary of state employees have complained to me that the current secretary of state, Mark Martin, is rarely in the office, preferring to work on his engineering business in Prairie Grove.
Arkansas is the 48th poorest state in per capita income. That remains a powerful argument for paying state officials at a commensurate level.