LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The rising number of Arkansas state employees is becoming an issue in the governor's race between incumbent Democrat Mike Beebe and Republican challenger Jim Keet.

State Budget Administrator Mike Stormes says the number of full-time state employees from June 2007 to June 2010 has increased by more than 3,400 to 56,422.

Beebe says that excluding growth in higher education and federally funded programs, the increase is actually 1,420 and he calls that "pretty modest growth."

Keet says that the state's employee ranks have risen too much and that the rate of growth is not sustainable. He says that if elected, he would take a census of the number of state employees and that there will be no growth in their number in four years.