LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas panel recommended a 2 percent raise Tuesday for the state’s elected officials and judges, despite a request from the state Supreme Court that it receive an 11 percent bump in pay.

The Independent Citizens Commission proposed the pay raise for the state’s constitutional officers, legislators, prosecutors and judges, setting up a hearing to receive public comments before it votes on the proposal.

The commission was created through a 2014 constitutional amendment changing how officials’ salaries are set. The salaries had previously been set in the constitution, which allowed the Legislature to make cost-of-living adjustments. The panel granted substantial pay raises to officials in 2015.

“It seems that a 2 percent inflation rate is the number we should consider,” Commissioner Mitch Berry said before the vote.

Under the proposal, lawmakers’ salaries would increase from $39,400 a year to $40,188, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s salary would rise from to $141,000 to $143,820.

The proposal is far lower than the 11 percent pay raise Chief Justice Dan Kemp had sought for himself and the other six members of the state Supreme Court. Kemp’s proposal had called for raising his pay from $180,000 a year to $199,800 and the other justices’ pay from $166,500 a year to $184,815.

Kemp had said the raise would put the court more in line with other states, and had also cited the flurry of appeals justices handled in April over Arkansas’ initial plan to execute eight inmates over an 11-day period. Arkansas put four inmates to death after the court halted three of the executions and a federal court stopped a fourth.

Kemp said he wasn’t surprised by the commission’s recommendation but likely will seek another adjustment next year.

“We’ll have another opportunity … next March, April, May to present information, so we’ll plan on that,” Kemp told reporters.


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ANDREW DeMILLO
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