$5.6-billion budget on table to start Arkansas fiscal session

Arkansas lawmakers will go into session on Feb. 12, 2018, starting with ironing out the 2018 budget.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Lawmakers will return to work at the State Capitol on Monday as Arkansas' 2018 Fiscal Session begins. Members of the House and Senate are expected to spend the next several weeks there 

In Jan., Gov. Asa Hutchinson rolled out his $5.6-billion budget proposal. It increases overall spending for fiscal year 2019 by nearly $173 million.

"There's been a lot of work going into this prior to us coming into session just to make sure folks have the information they need to take off running and start making votes," Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) said.

Though Sen. Dismang said most legislators seem pleased with the governor's budget overall, some items are sure to spark debate. That includes proposed spending cuts for Arkansas Works -- the state's Medicaid expansion program.

"At this point you have members who are still working through the final numbers, working with the governor's office and DHS to make sure they have all the information they need," Dismang said.

Though he's unsure exactly how long the fiscal session will last, Dismang expects legislators will finalize the budget within 30 days.

"I don't anticipate us to get into policy discussions or trying to introduce legislation relating to policy," he said. "We can handle those matters when we come back in in the next regular session."

The governor's budget includes a $65 million surplus that could help pave the way for future tax cuts and road improvements.

"For the most part, I feel like we're in a good position here in the state financially," Sen. Dismang said. "The economy is doing well. That's represented by the low unemployment numbers we have here."

The fiscal session convenes at noon Monday, Feb. 12. Gov. Hutchinson will then deliver a joint address to both chambers at 12:30.

© 2018 KTHV-TV


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