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Arkansas Budget Hearings Begin Ahead of Fiscal Session
Thursday, January 11, 2018 6:55 AM

Budget Hearings
The Arkansas budget hearings began Monday, Jan. 8, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson led the process with the aid of the Department of Finance and Administration, which prepares its annual forecast and recommendations for a balanced budget.

After the governor’s presentation, the Joint Budget Committee will hear budget requests from the “Big 6,” which includes the Higher Education Institutions, Department of Education, Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Correction, and Department of Community Correction. Following these departments, the cash fund agencies—state boards, commissions, and other agencies—will present their budgets.

Legislators also can began filing appropriations bills and identical resolutions. During the upcoming fiscal session, the legislature cannot take up any non-appropriation bills unless 2/3 of the body votes in favor of a resolution.

Fiscal Session
Arkansas' upcoming fiscal session is the fifth since its inception in 2010. It begins Feb. 12 and, under Arkansas law, can only last 30 days, though it can be extended to 45 days with a 3/4 super majority vote.

With four weeks until the fiscal session begins, members will be able to use the time in the interim to draft appropriations measures to ensure the session is completed within that timetable.

Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force Update
During the Jan. 8 Task Force Committee meeting, members voted to terminate a contact with PFM Consulting, having decided to go a different direction and rely on governmental staff like those at the Bureau of Legislative Research and the Department of Finance and Administration. The contract with PFM, which was effective September 2017, was for $312,750.

Monday's Task Force meeting also focused on the Arkansas corporate income tax and personal income tax.

State individual income taxes are adopted state by state. Arkansas enacted an individual income tax in 1929 and was the 14th state to do so. Tax rates have since increased and then decreased from 2013 to 2015 due to adjustments to the brackets.

Arkansas Credit Union Association lobbyist Ron Harrod said his group will continue to watch these committees and see where their decisions lead. If you would like more information, please contact Harrod at or 501-944-3068.