Arkansas governor announces 2% raise for state employees

February 17, 2022 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday that thousands of state employees would receive a 2% cost-of-living wage and salary adjustment, citing inflationary pressures as a reason for granting the pay raise.

Hutchinson said the raise, the first COLA the state has granted in 10 years, will be for executive branch employees and will be reflected in their Feb. 25 paychecks. The increase will affect 22,500 employees, Hutchinson’s office said.

Employees who work for agencies or offices not under the governor’s authority will not be eligible for the raises, and Hutchinson said the COLA would not substitute for merit raises employees could receive.

“I see this as absolutely necessary in light of the inflationary pressures they are all experiencing and because of their extraordinary work coming out of this pandemic,” Hutchinson told reporters at his weekly media briefing.

Hutchinson said the state’s chief fiscal officer has certified to him that the state has enough general revenue for the increase, which will cost $24 million. Finance officials have said the state expects to end the current fiscal year with a $500 million surplus.