Hutchinson announces 2% cost of living raise for state employees
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a 2% cost of living raise (COLA) effective immediately for state employees.
“The law allows the governor to award an increase of 2% if the chief fiscal officer has certified that sufficient general revenues are available for that purpose,” Hutchinson said Thursday during his weekly news conference. “That certification has been made to me. I’ve never awarded this particular COLA increase. The last award was in 2012.”
The pay raise does not take the place of merit increases, the governor said.
“I see this as absolutely necessary in light of the inflationary pressures that they’re all experiencing and because of their extraordinary work coming out of this pandemic,” the governor said.
State employees will see the difference in their paycheck on Feb. 25, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said he did not know how much the raises would cost the state. The amount will be absorbed by agency budgets. If the money is not in available in the agency budget, the state’s performance fund can pay them, he said.
The governor also announced $6 million in funding for improvements at the Arkansas School for the Deaf and the Arkansas School for the Blind; $2 million to replace waterlines the power grid, and $4 million for a new health services building for both campuses.
“This new facility will house clinical health and wellness services for students and staff, and it will include audiology, ophthalmology, optometry and wellness services,” Hutchinson said. “This will really be helpful in meeting the specialized needs of these students.”
The funding will come from the governor’s education relief fund. The projects are expected to be completed by September 2023.
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