Spotlight: Arkansas legislature's pay supplements | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spotlight: Arkansas legislature's pay supplements

Posted By on Sat, Mar 19, 2011 at 7:30 AM

The Blue Hog Report made a fine political point the other day by highlighting the Republican bloc that was standing in way of tiny state spending increases, including a piddly $6,000 for the Arkansas School for the Deaf. These same penny-pinching Republicans, he recounted in detail, are scoring up to $24,000 a year or so in "reimbursements" for alleged home office expenses. There is no accountabiility for these payments. Nearly all of the lawmakers set up dummy fronts to accept the money. It is generally understood that these payments are just an artifice to get around the constitutional limit on legislative pay.

Blue Hog (Matt Campbell), is back today with a useful and extensive background piece on the practice. It's a bipartisan outrage. Democrats and Republicans alike line their pockets with this money. (Undoubtedly, some of them might be able to make the case that they have some legitimate expenses for legislative work that these payments defray, but you won't find an accounting of it in the Capitol. It's not required.) Blue Hog notes the sloppy nature of the paper fronts set up to scoop the cash. Some have been dissolved. At least one, Rep. Ed Garner's bakery, has been dissolved and is also the source of an ongoing state tax collection embarrassment for the supposed deficit hawk.

A tip of the hat to two legislators, Sen. David Johnson of Little Rock and Rep. Nate Steel of Nashville, who do not draw the pay enhancements. There may be one or two more. Here's the issue as Blue Hog sees it:

Salary padding, of course, presents a legal issue. As already noted, Amendment 70 explicitly prohibits legislators from receiving additional income from their service in the General Assembly. Yet, to the extent that the reimbursements claimed under the statute go beyond actual costs incurred in a given month, what could you call that money other than “income”? After all, a “reimbursement,” by definition, is repayment for costs incurred. Where costs were not incurred, or where the amount received exceeds those costs, the additional money is income, according to both the IRS and common sense.

What does receiving extra income under these statutes say to Arkansans, given both when the laws were put in place and the continued avarice and greed displayed in amending and abusing the system? More importantly, what can and should be done in response? It is an understatement to suggest that some changes are needed in how expenses are documented and repaid, of course. That is a given. What is not given, though, is how quickly these changes will be made; that answer almost certainly depends on how Arkansans react to the salary padding.

Illegal exaction lawsuit, anyone?

ALSO: The expense scam, Republican hypocrisy and pork barreling are all rolled up into John Brummett's today. You could sum it up this way: Money-wasting Secretary of State Mark Martin is a change exactly how?

Tags: , ,


Favorite

Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Ad man Heathcott sues CJRW for damages in ouster

    Gary Heathcott the long-time ad and PR man who now lives in San Antonio has sued CJRW, the major ad and PR firm, over its severing of a consulting deal with him last year and asks $1.3 million in actual damages plus unspecified punitive damages.
    • Dec 18, 2018
  • Court dismisses ethics complaints against Kavanaugh

    The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed numerous judicial ethics complaints against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because the law exempts Supreme Court members, even for acts committed as a judge covered by the law. In short: Bart O'Kavanaugh is above the law.
    • Dec 18, 2018
  • In face of blowback, state will slow down assisted living cuts

    Brett Rains of 40/29 is tweeting from the Capitol that the Department of Human Services is slowing its push for cuts in reimbursements for home health aides that critics have said could force many people into more expensive nursing home and force companies that provide the services out of business.
    • Dec 18, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Presidential thriller, co-author Bill Clinton, coming to bookstores in 2018

    June 2018 is the expected publication date for a novel collaboration by former President Bill Clinton and crime writer James Patterson.
    • May 9, 2017
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation