Arkansas Senate Approves Bill on Officials' Salaries

AP

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday approved a budget proposal that keeps the salaries of the state's elected officials unchanged in the coming year.

By a 33-0 vote, the Senate approved the proposed General Appropriation Act setting the funding levels for the state's executive, legislative and judicial branches. The measure is the first budget bill the Legislature is required by the constitution to approve and now heads to Gov. Mike Beebe's desk.

A spokesman for the governor said Beebe didn't object to the measure and would likely sign it into law.

The measure does not call for raises for the state's prosecutors and judges — including Supreme Court justices and state Appeals Court judges— after a legislative panel last week removed a proposed 2 percent cost of living adjustment, or COLA, from the bill.

Sen. Larry Teague, co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, said he expected the Legislature to revisit whether to give prosecutors and judges a raise as they weigh a 2 percent raise Beebe has proposed for state employees. Teague said he was hopeful lawmakers would approve the pay raise for state employees.

"I think there's some uncertainty about all of it, but I remain optimistic that we will give a COLA," said Teague, D-Nashville.

Under the bill approved Tuesday, the salaries of legislators, who work part time, would remain at $15,869 and the salaries for the Senate President and House Speaker would stay at $17,771. Lawmakers can receive additional money through a per diem and reimbursement for mileage.

The state constitution sets the salaries for legislators and constitutional officers, but allows the Legislature to make cost-of-living increases.

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