Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R-Walnut Ridge) couldn’t get a do-pass motion today for her HB 1189 that would have effectively ended the regular bonuses Commerce Secretary Mike Preston gets from the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation.

Her bill would prohibit cabinet secretaries from taking money from outside sources for doing their state jobs. They could still work in their professions in unrelated side jobs.

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Preston is paid $182,000. But he’s been bonused by the private foundation every year for five years, $54,800 most recently, on approval by the governor. Cavenaugh said there’s no public accountability for that money and the Foundation wouldn’t tell her the source of the money, which also pays to upgrade Preston’s air travel to business class and for other expenses. She said people deserve to know if a cabinet secretary is working only for the state in their jobs or for someone else.

Questions indicated she’d found no other cabinet secretaries that enjoyed similar pay enhancement. No merit pay raises were given to state employees last year, when Preston got his last bonus.

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No one spoke directly against the bill before the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.

 

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