LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson, Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd and President Pro Tempore Jimmy Hickey discussed the Revenue Stabilization Act and Arkansas’s record reserve Thursday.
Hutchinson said the budget they’re presenting is, “remarkable considering we’re coming out of a pandemic, and the fact we’re able to fund our budget fully but also show that we’re actually reducing spending.”
The governor said the state has not allowed the growth in revenue lead to a growth in spending.
Hutchinson said the total spending for the upcoming fiscal year will be around $5.8 billion, which is $50 million less than what was budgeted for in the previous year. The governor noted this is the first decrease in state spending of general revenue since 2011.
Hutchinson also noted the reserve will be at $700 million by June 30.
The governor also noted this budget includes the largest percentage increase in educational adequacy funding since the 2006 timeframe.
Other priorities noted by Hutchinson were an increase Medicaid budget, ARHome funding, Succeed Scholarships, state reimbursements for state inmates in the counties, meat inspection programs, improved retirement for Arkansas State Police and cold case unit.
The governor also said previous cuts in corrections and higher education is restored in this budget.
Hutchinson also said 12 percent of the annual budget will be in reserve. According to the governor, this will help with bond rating, interest rates and paying Arkansas debts.
Hutchinson said the state’s general obligation debt has been reduced from $2.8 billion to $1.7 billion.
Hickey said the state of Arkansas should be proud how the state government handled the fiscal situation.
Shepherd said there are good proposals in front of the House and Senate.
The governor also announced a special session will be called when the legislature comes back for redistricting to reduce the income tax rate in Arkansas.