Arkansas panel reviewing salaries sets benchmark states

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The Arkansas panel reviewing elected officials’ salaries has chosen five states it will use as a comparison for its decisions: Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The Independent Citizens Commission chose those states Wednesday. Commission members must meet a Feb. 2 deadline to decide whether Arkansas’ top elected officials, lawmakers and judges should get raises.

Some commission members indicated they supported raising the annual salaries of legislators, currently paid $15,869 a year, while also recommending that the Legislature tighten its use of per diem payments for food and other expenses incurred on state business.

The commission also heard from a circuit judge who called on them to raise judicial salaries.

The seven-member panel was created through a constitutional amendment approved by voters last year.