State budget talks begin | Arkansas Blog

State budget talks begin

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TALKING BUDGET: Sen. Steve Harrelson took this photo of budget hearings today.
  • TALKING BUDGET: Sen. Steve Harrelson took this photo of budget hearings today.

Review of the state budget began today, but there's a certain Groundhog Day flavor to it given how much has already been written previously. We already knew:

* FORESTRY: a committee would be named to lookinto the debt-ridden Forestry Commission in advance of consideration of Gov. Mike Beebe's call for a $2.7 supplmental appropriation to pay off improper borrowing of federal money to keep the agency operating.

* STATE EMPLOYEES: The governor has proposed no COLA for state employees.

* SPENDING INCREASES: what little additional money is available is headed mainly to education ($56.6 million or a 2.9 percent increase) and Medicaid, $114.3 million, or a 16.5 percent increase in the state's share.

Roby Brock has more details.

Also, while Republicans haven't issued an ultimatum yet, they don't sound from this willing to vote an extra appropriation for Forestry (and I believe that will take a 75 percent vote) as long as the current agency director, John Shannon, remains in place.

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