Legislators Weigh In On Decision To Raise Pay For Elected Officials

ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- Local legislators are weighing in on a plan to raise the pay of state government elected officials.

A panel of private citizens approved the 3 percent pay raise on Tuesday. The raise applies to the state's constitutional officers, judges, prosecutors and legislators and will cost the state $1.2 million annually. The panel that approved the raises was created by a 2014 voter approved amendment.

Elected officials who serve Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley are weighing in on the raises.

"Unfortunately, I don't think they made the right decision," said State Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest. "They increased it 3 percent, and I sit there and say, 'is the people's salaries in my district going up 3 percent?' and they're not, so what I plan to do is give back the raise to charitable causes."

State Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, disagrees.

"They do a lot of research," he said. "They gather a lot of facts, and what they are charged with is making sure the legislative, judicial and executive branch salaries for elected officials are right for the people of Arkansas. Frankly, I respect the decision they made."

The raises will go into effect in the next few weeks. The panel has to file a formal resolution first.

Last week, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin asked Auditor Andrea Lea to withhold his raises, saying saving taxpayer money, "shouldn't be this hard." A spokesman for Lea said a 2009 opinion that the state must pay elected officials the increased amount set by the commission meant Griffin would still get the pay raise.