Arkansas' highest-paid employees list grows by 119 in a year

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The number of state employees in Arkansas who earn at least $100,000 a year increased by 119 during the past year to 2,585.

Most of this fiscal year's increase has occurred at the state's higher-education institutions, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday ( ).

The number of $100,000-plus salaries at the state's two- and four-year colleges increased from 2,116 in fiscal 2014 to 2,220 in fiscal 2015, while their peers in state agencies increased from 350 to 365 in the same period.

"Higher ed is big business," said state Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, who is co-chairman of the Arkansas Legislature's Joint Budget Committee.

More than half of the employees at the state's higher-education institutions who make at least $100,000 a year are employed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences: 1,180 in fiscal 2015 -- up from 1,152 in fiscal 2014.

That 28-employee increase is the lowest at UAMS during at least the past six fiscal years.

"Practicing doctors make a good living, and that's part of the reason they are there and part of it is they care about people," said Teague. "But if they are giving up time out of practice to do something, then they deserve to be compensated for that, so I just don't have a problem with it."

Funding for the state government's 2,585 highest-earning employees comes from a variety of state, federal and private sources, including tuition, hospital billings and taxes.

The top-paid state employee is Bret Bielema, head football coach at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He now makes $4 million a year, after getting a pay raise and a contract extension in February.

Mike Anderson, UA's head basketball coach, is second on the earnings list at $2.28 million. In January, UA announced a contract extension for Anderson through the 2020 season.

Next is Michiaki Imamura, a UAMS professor and chief of pediatric cardiovascular surgery at Arkansas Children's Hospital, at $1.07 million. His salary is financed through patient care charges and private funds, said UAMS spokesman Leslie Taylor.

UA Athletic Director Jeff Long is the fourth-highest-paid state employee at $965,000.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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