by Max Brantley
Republicans legislators filed a shell bill to distribute state revenue in the next budget year. Though details aren't supplied yet, House Minority Leader John Burris tells Talk Business they are still pointing toward a reduction in spending in some areas.
Cuts will likely be small, targeted reductions focusing on agencies that do not provide essential services. The Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission are candidates for some trimming.
Well, if you live downstream from a pig feeder operating, regulation of pig crap might seem essential to you. Or near one of those leaky waste pits in the Fayetteville shale. Or where gravel operators have gouged holes in a nice fishery. You could make a case we don't spend enough on environmental regulation. Agriculture, you may recall, is home to the Forestry Commission, which is struggling to maintain its firefighting force. And so on. Economic development? In the paper just this morning, the local chamber was saying taxpayers don't pay nearly enough for this.
When the House convened today, Speaker Robert Moore urged members not to reinvent the wheel. Get things done quickly and simply, in other words. Will Republicans introduce the blockade they've perfected in Washington? Gov. Mike Beebe similarly encouraged a limited agenda and a quick session. No sweeping rhetoric here. No money could be found for state employee pay raises, he said.