salary appropriation

State attorney general’s office, audit committee at odds over raises

Arkansas Legislative Joint Auditing Committee members say it’s time to resolve a disagreement between the Arkansas Legislative Audit and the state attorney general’s office regarding implementation of 2% raises for employees who are paid at their maximum-authorized salaries.

The committee on Thursday held filing an audit report that states 29 employees in the attorney general’s office were paid in excess of the line-item salary appropriation, per Act 47 of 2020, by a total of $64,629 in conflict with the Arkansas Constitution. The report recommended that the attorney general’s office ensure employees are not paid above the appropriated line-item maximum salary amounts.

“The attorney general’s office continues to disagree with Legislative Audit on our office’s authority to award bonuses and raises to the hardworking public servants of the office of the attorney general,” Amanda Priest, the office’s communications director, said in an emailed statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “The discussion to hold the findings is at the discretion of the Legislature, and we will continue to cooperate and advise the legislative body on this issue.”

Brian Bowen, chief of staff for the attorney general, said the attorney general’s office believes it and the state’s other constitutional offices are exempt from the state’s Uniform Classification and Compensation Act. Bowen also said the original discussion of the audit moved from a statutory issue to a constitutional issue.

“While we agree that we are bound by the Arkansas Constitution, your citations to Articles 16 and 19 are not relevant to the findings in your report, as we comply with the constitution and all applicable laws and statutes,” representatives for the attorney general’s office said in response to the audit. “The Office of the Attorney General will continue to comply with all applicable statutes and the Arkansas Constitution.”

The audit report cites the state’s

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