A state commission will be holding a public hearing Tuesday morning on its proposal to raise salaries by two percent for state elected officials. The Independent Citizens Commission meets at the state Capitol Tuesday at 9am. The commission has proposed pay raises for members of the state judiciary, including Supreme Court justices, Appeals Court justices; state legislators and the state’s seven constitutional officers.
According to news accounts, Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp had advocated for an 11 percent pay raise for the six associate justices on the high court. He said that members of the state Appeals Court typically get paid more, when counting their annual salaries and mileage reimbursements. State Supreme Court justices currently get paid about $166,000 a year. The Chief Justice gets paid about $180,000 a year.
Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin sent a letter to the commission opposing his salary increase. He said “at a time when the state budget is tight and hardworking Arkansans need tax relief, a salary increase for me is neither a priority nor appropriate.” The Lieutenant Governor is one of the lowest paid constitutional office salaries, at approximately $42,000 a year. A two percent raise would add about $840 to Griffin’s yearly earnings.
The Independent Citizens Commission was established through the voter-approved Amendment 94 to the Arkansas Constitution. In 2015, the commission approved pay raises for a variety of public elected officials.