Salary Hike For Elected Of­fi­cials Qui­etly Ac­cepted

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPINION - May­lon Rice Po­lit­i­cally Lo­cal

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 3 per­cent, across the board pay raise.

When, Gen­tle Reader and Mr. and Ms. Voter, was the last time you got a 3 per­cent raise in pay?

Oh, well.

The only man who wishes he was not get­ting a raise 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 lieu­tenant gov­er­nor 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 3 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 as 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 ($4,314.60).

Lt. Gov.: $43,584 ($1,269.45) At­tor­ney Gen­eral: $136,578 ($3,978.00)

Sec­re­tary of State: $94,554 ($2,754.00)

Trea­surer: $89,301 ($2,601.00)

Au­di­tor of State: $89,301 ($2,601.00)

Land Com­mis­sioner: $89,301 ($2,601.00)

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive: $41,393 ($1,205.64)

Speaker of the House: $47,277 ($1, 3770.00)

State Sen­a­tors: $41,393 ($1,377.00)

Se­nate Pro Tem­pore: $47,277 ($1, 3770.00)

Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice: $189,108 ($5,508.00)

Supreme Court Jus­tices: $174,925 ($5,094.90)

Court of Ap­peals Chief: $172,298 ($5,018.40)

Court of Ap­peals Jus­tices: $169,672 ($4,941.90)

Cir­cuit Judges: $168,096 ($4,896.00)

District Judges: $147,084 ($4,284.00)

Pros­e­cut­ing At­tor­neys, Div. A $159,691 ($4,651.20)

Pros­e­cut­ing At­tor­neys, Div. B $135,737 ($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 MAYLONTRICE@YA­HOO.COM. THE OPINIONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR.

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