LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP & KTHV) - Arkansas has ended its fiscal year with a $145 million surplus.
The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said Tuesday that the state's net revenues for the year totaled $4.7 billion. That's $178.7 million higher than last year and $145.6 million higher than predicted.
The state's fiscal year ended Saturday.
Combined with a surplus the state previously had, the state will have more than $191 million in money available for one-time and emergency needs.
The money could come in handy for the state as it faces a potential shortfall in its Medicaid program. State Human Services officials project the program faces a deficit of between $250 million and $400 million for the budget year that begins July 1, 2013.
Dr. John Shelnutt is an Economist and Tax Researcher for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
The surplus is the result of playing it safe through fiscally conservative practices, according to Shelnutt, along with an economy which is slowly improving.
"There are one-time collections that can occur. There are one-time refunds that can occur. So we can break either positive or negative. The economy can turn," Shelnut said.
Among the increases over last year is corporate income, which is up 12 percent.
And sales taxes are up eight percent over last year.
At the State Capitol on Tuesday, Governor Mike Beebe explained what this budget surplus of $145 million means for Arkansans.
"I can generally tell you that Medicaid, Quick Action Closing, and some institutional higher education needs are certainly three priorities I can name that I think would be appropriate," Governor Beebe said.
And for those who want a rebate in the mail, because of the surplus, the Governor says he has already cut more taxes than anyone in the history of Arkansas.
"I can talk to anyone about tax rebates and cuts. We've done more than anybody. But you have to do it in a responsible manner that still takes care of essential services. So the surplus should be used first for capital needs. It's one-time money," said Governor Beebe.
The Governor does not know how much he will seek for Medicaid. It will, however, be more than the $40 million the legislature originally set aside.
The Legislature will reconvene in January.