The governor's budget | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The governor's budget

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2008 at 3:00 PM

When I wrote that Gov. Mike Beebe had decided not to staff an office in Washington as Mike Huckabee had done, reader Al Fornaut posed some fair questions about the size and cost of the Beebe administration relative to the Huckabee administration.

I put them to Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample, who got back to me today. It’s too lengthy to go through every jot and tittle and to attempt to go into all the dollar differences on funds appropriated by the legislature versus funds actually spent.

But find a summary on the jump. In short, the spending is comparable.

Huckabee had a maximum staff authorization of 59 with the D.C. office. Beebe has the same staff authorization. Beebe currently employs 56 and the ending of the five-person D.C. office, DeCample readily concedes, doesn’t mean a reduction in five jobs in the governor’s office.

“We’re still going to be doing the state’s business, but we’re going to be doing it from here. We do expect there to be some cost savings.”

It is true that the legislature gave Beebe authority for yet five more staffers for his transition. But he never filled any of those positions and authority for them has expired. Beebe’s staffing never exceeded 59, he said.

Beebe did get authority for some extraordinary pay raises, up to 20 percent, but DeCample said they were all to reduce disparities at the lower end of the pay scale. The highest paid employee among the group receiving 20 percent raises now makes $45,000. The rest make less than $41,500. Chief of Staff Morril Harriman got the same COLA that all state employees received, around 2 percent.

Actual expenditures on the legislative session of 2007: $63,896. Actual expenditures for lthe legislative session by Huckabee in 2005: $186,340. DeCample noted that Huckabee had a much longer session to contend with.

The big pictures on total expenditures by the office:

Fiscal 2005 $3.7 million Huckabee
Fiscal 2006 06 $4.2 million Huckabee
Fiscal 2007 $4.6 million (half Huckabee and half Beebe)
Fiscal 2008 $3.9 with three months left.

DeCample noted that the appropriation for the office is a half-million lower for 2008 than it was for 2007. He said the office likely will have spent more in calendar 2007 than Huckabee spent in calendar 2006, but there were some extraordinary costs in the changeover. If you’ll remember, Huckabee left the office without computer hard drives and stripped of a great deal of furniture.

Reader Fornaut suggested Beebe had spent $300,000 on the D.C. office. DeCample says not. Some $337,041 was spent in fiscal 2007, ending June 30, 2007, but DeCample said the "vast majority" of that was spent before Beebe took office in January 2007. By way of comparison, expenditures this year have been $38,424, mostly for an office lease and some of that has been recouped by subleasing the space.

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