The body created to set pay for elected officials gave final approval to a 22.2 percent pay raise for Arkansas’s prosecuting attorneys today upon the conclusion of a public comment period.
The AP reports that no one spoke for or against the proposal today at the meeting of the independent citizens’ commission.
The public comment process itself attracted some criticism in March, when the commission signed off on big raises for legislators, constitutional officers and judges. At that meeting, after it became apparent that public comment ran heavily against the scope of the raises initially proposed, some commissioners wanted to modify the proposal — but were told that the Constitution left no choice but an up or down vote on the initially proposed amounts. That left Commissioner Stuart Hill asking “what’s the point of public comment?”
Here’s how Max explained the prosecutor pay raises two weeks ago, when the public comment period began:
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.