The 93rd General Assembly wrapped its fiscal session, where members meet to pass the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1st. Fiscal is the last session scheduled for the 93rd Assembly.
Members successfully passed the Revenue Stabilization Act, which increased the state’s general revenue budget by $175.1 million to $6.02 billion for 2023. After initial attempts by some lawmakers to expand the legislative agenda, budget items passed without much drama.
Governor Asa Hutchinson is expected to sign the budget bills, and the fiscal session will officially end, or sine die, on Tuesday.
What’s included in the 2023 state budget:
- Medicaid expansion
- Increase in public school funding
- Increase in human service programs, like reducing the waitlist for Arkansans with developmental disability
- Increase in higher education funding
- Increase in county jail reimbursements
- Increase in funding to division of corrections
- State police salary increase
Where does the money for the budget come from?
- Income tax (individual and business income)
- Sales tax (tax on the sale, transfer, or exchange of a taxable item or service)
- Use tax (tax on the storage, use, or consumption of a taxable item or service on which no sales tax has been paid)
Remember, Arleg just passed big time tax breaks for the wealthiest Arkansans in the fall of 2021.
Why should you care about the state budget?
It funds our communities! According to Urban Institute, most spending falls into one of seven categories: elementary and secondary education, public welfare (which includes most Medicaid), higher education, health and hospitals, highways and roads, criminal justice (which includes spending on police, corrections, and courts), and housing and community development.
Examples of what AR state budget funds:
- State libraries
- Public schools and public school facilities
- Arkansas PBS
- Developmental Disabilities Services Fund
- Department of Agriculture
- Parks and tourism
- Municipal Aid Fund
- Arkansas State Police
- Workforce Services
- Public Universities and Higher Ed
- Childcare and Early Childhood Education Fund
- Division of Correction inmate care
- County Jail Fund
So even though budgets can make our eyes glaze over, how lawmakers allocate state funds is a big deal.
PS: The Senate elected new leadership: Incoming Senate Pro Temp will be Bart Hester. The House will elect a Speaker on Tuesday; the race is between current House Speaker Matthew Shepherd and House Majority Leader Austin McCollum.