Gov. Mike Beebe will submit a state budget Wednesday that includes another half-cent reduction in the two-cent tax on groceries, down from 6 cents when Beebe started reducing it. He figures the budget can accommodate the spending reduction, though it will necessarily tighten spending elsewhere at least a little. There will be no other proposed tax increases or reductions.
Revenue has been picking up. Forecasters are expecting something like a 2 percent increase in spending for education, which means an overall budget increase somewhere in that range. State employees undoubtedly wonder what it means to them. Spokesman Matt DeCample says he's not at liberty to discuss further elements of the budget.
The half-cent will cost roughly $15 million, based on past figures. Why not go for the whole enchilada, a small cost in a multi-billion-dollar budget. "It's still a tight budget," DeCample said. "We're going to be cautious and conservative."