The independent citizens commission that now sets pay for state elected officials today unanimously approved a 22.2 percent increase in authorized pay for most prosecutors from the $124,394 that was to take effect July 1 to $152,000, exactly what the prosecutors had requested.
The recommendation will go out for public comment through May 13 and, unless that causes a change of heart, they go into effect in no more than 45 days.
Twenty-five prosecutors are covered by this increase. Three other prosecutors who’ve been allowed to have private law practice were to make $104,000 under 2015 legislation, though there is talk of converting them to full-time eventually. The independent commission recommended keeping that group at 85 percent of full prosecutor pay, or $129,200. Prosecutors got only a 1 percent pay raise from the legislature this year.
Prosecutors asked for 95 percent of the $160,000 pay given circuit judges, who also enjoy more lucrative retirement benefits than prosecutors. Prosecutors argue that the pay differential had made the prosecutor’s offices a proving ground for the higher paying judgeships. The independent commission studies other neighboring and similar states in reaching its conclusions.
It had earlier set pay as stipuled by Amendment 94 for other state officials. The amendment didn’t cover prosecutors, but the legislature this year modified the terms of the amendment, as it allowed, to include prosecutors as well.
Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley, who heads the prosecutors association, made the case that a big portion of the offices’ work is unseen, not just major criminal cases. He emphasized the discretion prosecutors must exercise in a variety of circumstances, including drug and other special courts. He said he was pleased with today’s vote.