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Arkansas House Passes Budget Bills As End Of Session Nears

Sarah Kellogg

Arkansas’s budget for the next fiscal year is a few steps away from passing. The Arkansas House passed two budget bills on Tuesday. The first bill, HB1865 establishes a total of $54 million for the state’s rainy day fund. It also allows for additional funding to be available for state agencies and other purposes. Also, up to $30 million would be set aside for the governor’s office to approve.

Rep. Lane Jean, R- co-chair of the Joint Budget committee, R-Magnolia, outlined some of the allocations the bill establishes.

“The Department of Correction, there’s a $10.5 million lease. The quick action fund for economic development…$30 million. The University of Arkansas Agricultural, $1.9 million. This is to restore their $3 million that we’ve been doing for one time money. $1.1 million is already in the RSA,” Jean said. 

Additional money goes towards the state’s Succeed Scholarship program, the state’s military department, the Arkansas Youth Challenge program and the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

The House passed the legislation with a vote of 84-10. The House also took up and passed the overall budget bill. Under the HB1876, the budget consists of $5.75 billion in revenue. According to Jean, this is a 2.2 percent increase over the previous year. However, according to Jean, that increase is the “lowest it’s been in the decade.”

Legislators voted 90-5 with one voting present to pass that legislation.

The bills now go the Senate. The 2019 session is expected to end this week.