On the eve of the May 22 Preferential Primary Election, the private sector panel, whose sole purpose is to assess and set state payroll for elected officials, in Arkansas, doled out a three-percent, across the board pay raise.
When, Gentle Reader and Mr. and Ms. Voter, was the last time you got a three percent raise in pay?
The only man who wishes he was not is the Lt. Governor of Arkansas, Tim Griffin, and a former Congressman, who has distanced each and every pay hike given to his office (and this is the second such raise in four years).
It also should be noted that the lite Gov. has asked both times NOT to award the pay increase to his office, but the panel did, the Attorney General did and the state Auditor's office (which makes up and disperses the payroll) paid the increase to Griffin.
For a short while, if memory serves me, Griffin made a show of making donations of the first increase to charities, but even that soon stopped.
So aside from Lt. Gov. Griffin stepping out in the public and trying to thwart the pay increase -- there was silence from all the other state elected officials and judges.
And the three percent increase in all intents and purposes, will have begun showing up in elected officials' paychecks by the time you read these words.
Another $1.2 million for elected officials' salaries added to the salaries already paid out by Arkansas taxpayers.
Once upon a time, the Legislature went through a crazy, often three-phase vote to raise all the elected officials and their salaries. You had solons voting "yes" for better salaries, then voting "no" on the first ballot (so they could say they had not voted themselves a raise) and then "yes" when all the salaries were lumped together in one bill -- and then defending that vote on giving all the hard-working judges in the state a tiny raise to help fight crime and corruption in Arkansas and clear the backlog on courts.
Still it made some members of the Legislature really crazy each and every session when they had to vote to increase the salaries.
This new way, at the outset, seems much saner, fairer and well, yes, costly.
But finally we know that the salary for a state Representative, state Senator or Circuit Court judge is at least the same and eligible for a raise of some sort in the near future by a non-elected panel.
The new salaries (with the new increase in parentheses) are:
• Governor: $148,143.60 ($4,314.60).
• Lt. Gov.: $43,584.45, ($1,269.45)
• Attorney General: $136,578 ($3,978)
• Secretary of State: $94,554 ($2,754)
• Treasurer: $89,301 ($2,601)
• Auditor of State: $89,301.00 ($2,601)
• Land Commissioner: $89,301.00 ($2,601)
• State Representative: $41,393.64 ($1,205.64)
• Speaker of the House: $47,277.00 ($1, 3770)
• State Senators: $41,393.00 ($1,377)
• Senate Pro Tempore: $47,277.00 ($1, 3770)
• Supreme Court Chief Justice: $189,108 ($5,508)
• Supreme Court Justices: $174,924.90 ($5,094.90)
• Court of Appeals Chief: $172,298 ($5,018.40)
• Court of Appeals Justices: $169,671.90 ($4,941.90)
• Circuit Judges: $168,096 ($4,896)
• District Judges: $147,084 ($4,284)
• Prosecuting Attorneys, Div. A $159,691.20 ($4,651.20)
• Prosecuting Attorneys, Div. B $135,737.52 ($3,953.52)
And remember, there are 100 state House members, 36 state Senators, seven Supreme Court Justices; 12 Court of Appeals Justices, 140 Circuit Court Judges; and 24 Prosecuting Attorneys in the state. The number of District Courts is in flux -- for example Washington County has five District Court judges, others such as Drew and Bradley County share a District Court Judge.
So quite a few are getting a pay raise on you the taxpayers.
--Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 06/06/2018
Print Headline: Pay hike for elected officials quietly accepted