Legislature gets fiscal: Was it worth it? | Arkansas Blog

Legislature gets fiscal: Was it worth it?

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DUNCAN BAIRD: Fiscal sessions are a work in progress.
  • DUNCAN BAIRD: Fiscal sessions are a work in progress.
Legislative business in the fiscal session was all but completed this morning. Formal adjournment is set next week.

Thoughts invited on the merits the fiscal session. Is the state a solid beneficiary of a mandatory annual session? Or is it mostly pro forma ratification of budgets, with some tinkering at the edges and a good excuse for more legislative per diem and expenses?

I know that the debate on the expansion of Medicaid drained a lot of oxygen from the Capitol. But it's not justification for a fiscal sesson. That debate was only a byproduct of a hopelessly outdated Constitution and a 75 percent vote requirement for certain types of spending bills, not really a measure of serious financial oversight. In the end, the legislature re-authorized a program on which the main battle was fought and decided last year. Committee meetings otherwise were held. Subjects were discussed. Bills were passed. But did it really matter much?

I asked Joint Budget Co-Chair Duncan Baird, a measured thinker, for a quick thought on Twitter about the worth of the fiscal session, a meeting with a limited agenda and duration established by a 2008 constitutional amendment. His remark:

There's value to the fiscal session, but we have to work to realize that value. Still early in the history of fiscals.

Anybody else?


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