LITTLE ROCK — The newly created commission charged with setting salaries for elected state officials said Wednesday it will review officials’ pay levels in other states that are similar to Arkansas in five categories.

LITTLE ROCK — The newly created commission charged with setting salaries for elected state officials said Wednesday it will review officials’ pay levels in other states that are similar to Arkansas in five categories.


The Independent Citizens Commission also said it would meet on five consecutive days later this month in an effort to beat a Feb. 2 deadline for completing its salary review.


Meeting Tuesday at the state Capitol for the third time, the seven-member commission voted unanimously to review the salaries of elected officials in states that are similar to Arkansas in population size, per capita income, cost of living, annual general revenue and expenditures, and type of legislature.


The National Conference of State Legislatures considers the Arkansas Legislature a hybrid legislature, or one in which members spend more than two-thirds of the time required for a full-time job but are not paid enough to make a living without other income.


The commission was created by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November. It has until Feb. 2 to complete a review of the salaries of state legislators, constitutional officers and judges.


The commission can adjust salaries initially by any amount up or down, but thereafter, any adjustments are limited to a 15 percent increase or decrease.


On Monday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in an advisory opinion that if the panel wishes to make any salary adjustments greater than 15 percent, it must propose those adjustments no later than Feb. 2. The adjustments will be implemented after a public-comment period.


The panel also is to make recommendations to the Legislature on lawmakers’ reimbursement and per diem payment rates.


Commissioners noted the attorney general’s opinion Wednesday and suggested more frequent meetings would be needed. The panel so far has met three times in four weeks.


"I think we’re really going to have to have an accelerated time frame to go through these mountains of information," Commissioner Barbara Graves said.


The commission decided to hold meetings on Jan. 14, Jan. 16 and Jan. 26-30. It also decided to consider legislative salaries first, then constitutional officers’ pay and finally state judges’ pay.


Representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government testified before the panel Wednesday and provided information on their salaries and expenses.


Vice Chairman Chuck Banks told House Speaker-designate Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, that most people he has heard from do not want legislative salaries adjusted so as to create a full-time Legislature.


"Do you hear that same thing from your constituents?" Banks asked.


"No sir, I don’t know that I hear the exact same thing," Gillam said. "What we hear is a concern (about) the duration of the ability to pass laws and having the sessions, but the service level I hear quite a bit is that they want us here quite a bit."