UPDATE: A simple proposal for elected official pay increases — use the CPI | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

UPDATE: A simple proposal for elected official pay increases — use the CPI

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? For public official pay.
  • HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? For public official pay.
News of legislators' continued snorting at the trough of free swill slopped on them by lobbyists got me to thinking about the independent citizens commission soon to recommend pay for state officials, legislators and judges under a recently approved constitutional amendment.

There's an easy and fair way to come up with a suggestion.

Arkansas voters approved substantial pay increases for many elected officials in a constitutional amendment that took effect Jan. 1, 1993

It stipulated pay of $60,000 for the governor; $29,000 for the lieutenant governor; $37,500 for the secretary of state, auditor and land commissioner; $37,000 for the treasurer, and $50,000 for the attorney general. It provides $12,500 for legislators, who work part-time (then and still).

These figures were considered reasonable pay 21 years ago for the jobs, and came with an end of pay supplements known as public relations accounts. The amendment did allow expenses "reasonably connected" to official duties, but only if documented. Legislators soon were fudging on expenses to enhance their take-home.

The amendment allowed the legislature to propose an additional constitutional amendment devoted to official pay to the three already allowedy. It has never done so. It also allowed the legislature to increase pay annually, through an appropriations bill, but by no more than the increase in the Consumer Price Index. For political and budget reasons, this hasn't always happened.

So let's be fair. Let's move pay up to the figure it would be if state officials HAD gotten an increase annually equal to the CPI. Following are current pay figures and what they'd be using a tool applying the CPI to the 1993 salary level from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I've also figured the percentage increase that raise would represent:

Governor: $87,759 ($98,588) 12.3%
Lt. Governor: $42,315 ($48,472) 14.5%
Secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, land commissioner: $54,848 ($61,617)
Attorney general: $73,132 ($82,156) 12.3%
Legislators: $15,869 ($20,539) 29.4%

These are big percentage pay raises in an economy where the average worker has experienced little in the way of pay improvement (and where lawmakers ran knowing the pay scale and expecting this amendment to be defeated). They also can still claim per diem for days they show up to work at a rate that exceeds actual expenses. They can still bill for actual expenses, with documents. This is better than most experience in the private sector. They can still get slopped with free swill by lobbyists every night this week. And heck, let's go crazy. Round these pay levels up to the next highest $1,000.

Remember, too, that Arkansas ranks 48th in per capita income, so pushing pay to exorbitant levels hardly seems in order, particularly when you consider the part-time nature of the legislature and the fact that constitutional officers need not show up at the Capitol should they choose. Mark Martin is frequently absent among the current crop,his employees say, except that there is currently no lieutenant governor (and Mark Darr's absence since February has, to put it kindly not been missed.) OK. Martin supposedly does check in by spying remotely on security cameras.

And what about judges? They, too, will come under the independent citizens commission.

Circuit judges make $140,372, associate justices on the Arkansas Supreme Court make $149,589 and the chief justice makes $161,601. Some different figures apply for district and court of appeals judges.

I won't make many of my retired judge wife's colleagues happy by noting information from the annual judicial survey of the National Center for State Courts. Arkansas judicial pay already compares favorably with the rest of the country.

In 2014, a judge of a court of general jurisdiction in Arkansas made $138,982 (this was before a July 1 pay raise to over $140,000). That ranked Arkansas 28th among all states for judges of general jurisdiction courts, but ninth in the power of that salary against the cost of living (much lower in Arkansas). Again, this is a state that ranks 48th  in per capita income. Yet it pays judges in the top 10 when cost of living is considered. They've been bypassed by some cost of living pay raises other state employees have received, but it hasn't exactly left them in poverty.

UPDATE: Looks like the first meeting of the commission is at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, at Room 272 of the Capitol.



Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • One dead in shooting at Buffalo National River

    KTHV reports a man was fatally shot Saturday at the Buffalo National River in Searcy County in what is being called an officer-involved shooting. No other details at the moment.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • Rep. Mary Bentley's website now supports gay rights

    Somebody has cybersquatted on Republican Rep. Mary Bentley's website, replacing her messaging with a call for equal rights for LGBTQ people.
    • Jul 18, 2017
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Viewed

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
  • Arkansas-linked Charlottesville marcher identified, apologizes to those misidentified

    A man who says he's a former University of Arkansas student now living in New England has identified himself as the person wearing an "Arkansas Engineering" T-shirt in the Friday white supremacist march in Fayetteville. He apologized for involving UA in the story and to the professor misidentified as being the person wearing the shirt.
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
  • When Johnny Reb comes marching to Hot Springs

    They are assembling for and against white supremacist symbols in Hot Springs today. Photographs by Brian Chilson of the Arkansas Times.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • omg dbi, I did not realize there has been another one! https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/world/a……

    • on August 20, 2017
  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • You asked, DBI, and your Norma heard your call from far across the fruited plains…

    • on August 20, 2017
  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • Wonder why all of a sudden our Navy can't pass another ship without running into…

    • on August 20, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation