Good news for working poor: The legislature has adjourned | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good news for working poor: The legislature has adjourned

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 11:29 AM

IT'S DONE: Speaker Jeremy Gillam gavels session to a close.
  • IT'S DONE: Speaker Jeremy Gillam gavels session to a close.

The Arkansas legislative session officially adjourned this morning with no further official action.

According to the Democrat-Gazette, the House by caucus vote ended the patently illegal office reimbursement payments of $14,400 a year that most members took as a salary supplement. This was done because they got a 150 percent pay increase from the independent citizens commission established by Amendment 94 to almost $40,000 a year. The state also contributes to a retirement fund and provides very affordable health insurance for legislators.

Legislators will continue to receive per diem for "expenses," even when they have no meal expenses thanks to lobbyist freebies and even if they incur no housing costs because they commute and even though they draw mileage reimbursement about a third higher than that paid state employees. They also receive per diem for full weeks of meetings even when they don't meet every day. Many of them get cut-rate apartments in a state office building with free WiFi and cable TV, too.

In short, hold your applause for he end of the sham by which legislators set up LLCs to pay their spouses salary supplements. (And wouldn't you like to see their tax returns on how they accounted for this?)

No more legislature until a fiscal session next January. Unless Gov. Asa Hutchinson gets a rebranding together this year to keep the Obamacare Medicaid expansion money coming under a new name, likely with some more punishment for the working poor — the only people who didn't get a tax cut in the 2015 legislative session.

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