Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock
LITTLE ROCK, Ark (KTHV) -- Medicaid expansion and the budget are expected to be the biggest issues lawmakers will tackle.
Expansion could possibly include 250,000 Arkansans who are living at the federal poverty level, but the issue comes down to money and if Arkansas can afford it down the road.
Representative Davy Carter and Senator Michael Lamoureux said they're hesitant on expanding Medicaid.
Governor Mike Beebe said expanding Medicaid would increase revenue for hospitals and long-term states would spend less on *uncompensated care.
"Whether we take it or not, Arkansas tax payers will either be taking it either in the from of our children being saddled with additional national debt or we're going to be paying it as a part of our federal taxes," explained Gov. Beebe.
"This is a gravely important to the state, we have to be comfortable in analyzing and knowing what we are dealing with," added Rep. Carter, R - Cabot.
Lawmakers will also have to deal with the nearly $140 million Medicaid shortfall.
Governor Beebe has proposed using some of the projected surplus money over the next two years, but he's concerned about using one-time money for ongoing needs.