The Independent Citizens Commission that sets pay for state elected officials will meet at 10 a.m. today to continue discussion of pay for the officials next year. UPDATE: They approved a 2.5 percent pay increase for state elected officials and the legislature.
Materials available for study included the handout shown here of comparable salaries in a group of states the commission has traditionally used as a guide for Arkansas pay.
My short take in advance of the meeting: Tennessee is an outlier. Some Arkansas state officials are ahead of the curve, some (treasurer and auditor) are behind. Arkansas legislators don’t need a pay raise.
The lieutenant governor lags far behind other states, too, but the job is without meaningful work in Arkansas except to serve as presiding officer when the Senate is in session and that job can be delegated to a senator.
Earlier this year, the commission gave all judges at least a 2.5 percent pay raise. Members of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals got an additional $2,500. They put off the other elected offices for more study.
State employees got a 2.3 percent raise this year.
The discussion at the meeting today was relatively brief, with commissioners generally agreeing a 2.5 percent pay increase was in line with pay increases nationally and the commission’s earlier action. It was noted that none of the covered officials had asked for a pay increase, though a couple of commissioners thought that might be a product of their not trying to be seen as influencing a process they set up.
There was some sentiment to give the 2.5 percent and round off the numbers, but commissioners said that wouldn’t be in keeping with the strict 2.5 percent given judges. So add 2.5 percent to each figure shown in the chart. CORRECTIONS: I INIITIALLY COMPUTED 2 PERCENT RAISES RATHER THAN 2.5 TO FIGURE ADDITIONS: That will add $3703.37 for the governor; $1,089.61 for the lieutenant governor; $3,414.45 for the attorney general; $2,232.53 for the treasurer, auditor and land commissioner, and $1,034.84 for members of the General Assembly. The speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore, who are paid $47,277, would get a $1,181.93 raise.
The recommended increase can’t take effect until it is formally ratified following a public comment period. The commission set the meeting Jan. 22.
The commission was a product of a constitutional amendment scheme from the legislature that took the hot potato of their pay out of their own hands and put it in the hands of an appointed commission, the majority of its members named by legislative leaders.