- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The number of state employees in Arkansas who earn at least $100,000 has increased by 162 to 2,466, and the top two highest-paid are both coaches at the University of Arkansas.

In fact, most of the state employees work at higher-education institutions, where the number of those paid at least $100,000 a year increased by 118 to 2,116, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/P73SOt) reported. At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the number increased by 50 to 1,152.

Funding for the 2,466 highest-earning employees comes from a variety of federal, state and private sources, including tuition, patient-care revenue and taxes. The newspaper compiled the figures from more than four dozen repositories of state-employee salary information, and they reflect salaries from earlier in the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Gov. Mike Beebe said he presumes that the growth in the number of employees who are paid at least $100,000 a year at the state’s two-year and four-year colleges is a result of “market demand.”

“We don’t scrutinize constitutionally higher ed to the same degree that you constitutionally scrutinize other agencies,” Beebe said. He was referring to Amendment 33 of the Arkansas Constitution, which allows some wiggle room for the higher-education institutions’ boards, whose members are appointed by the governor.

“They have some degree of constitutional independence, but obviously their line-item (maximum salaries) are set by the Legislature,” the two-term Democrat said.

The state ended fiscal 2013 with 56,944 full-time employees - a small increase from 56,879 at the end of fiscal 2012 - according to a report from state Budget Administrator Brandon Sharp. The number of full time employees at the state’s two- and four-year colleges increased by 198 to 25,042 in fiscal 2013, while the ranks at the state’s other agencies dipped by 133 to 31,902.

The top-paid state employee is Bret Bielema, football coach at the University of Arkansas, with a $3.3 million salary this fiscal year. He was hired in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin, where he coached for seven years and led the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl games.

Mike Anderson, Arkansas’ men’s basketball coach, is the second-highest-paid state employee with a salary of $2.2 million. Anderson, formerly head coach at the University of Missouri and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was hired in March 2011.

The state’s third highest-paid employee is Michiaki Imamura, chief of pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, at $1.072 million. He began working at UAMS in the fall of 2010, succeeding Robert Jaquiss, whose salary was $1.1 million.

UA Athletic Director Jeff Long is the fourth-highest paid state employee at $865,000.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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