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Arkansas surplus grows as governor floats further relief

File photo of Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters in May.
Chris Banks
File photo of Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters in May 2021.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday floated the possibility of additional relief for taxpayers because of high gas prices and inflation as the state’s surplus for the fiscal year approached $500 million.

The Department of Finance and Administration said the state’s net available revenue for the fiscal year, which began July 1, now totals more than $5 billion. That’s $456 million above forecast and more than $390 million above the same time last year.

Hutchinson said the state’s budget surplus is on target to reach $600 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

“This is expected and if the economy continues to grow at this pace, then we will need to consider alternatives to provide financial relief to the taxpayers who are struggling record high gas prices and inflation,” the Republican governor said in a tweet. The governor’s office did not elaborate on what proposals the governor is considering.

Governors and lawmakers in at least a dozen states have have proposed giving rebate checks of several hundred dollars directly to taxpayers. Arkansas’ Legislature isn’t set to meet again until January, but Hutchinson could call a special session before then. Hutchinson leaves office in January due to term limits.

Hutchinson in December signed into law the largest tax cut in the state’s history. The package approved by the majority GOP Legislature cuts taxes by nearly $500 million once fully implemented in 2026.

The state’s net revenue for March totaled $519 million, which was $146 million above the state’s revenue for March 2021 and $138 million above forecast.

The state’s individual income, sales and corporate income tax collections in March were all above the same month last year and above forecast.

Arkansas ended its last fiscal year with a nearly $1 billion surplus.