Economic Incentives Threatened by Court Ruling

December 3, 2002
Posted at: 9:05 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Shoring up the state budget to cover court-mandated education funding increases could come at the expense of retooling Arkansas' economic development incentives.

That's according to veteran legislators. Experts have said more lucrative state incentive packages would be needed to lure a super project such as an automobile plant to the state. At the same time, school funding will be the priority issue in the upcoming legislative session, which begins January 13.

Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled that Arkansas isn't spending its $1.7 billion in school funds equitably among the 310 public school districts. State Senator Dave Bisbee says his goal is to meet the school funding requirements while also raising economic development incentives.

But outgoing House Speaker Shane Broadway, who will move over to the Senate in January, said doing both will be difficult. Experts have testified that remedies to the school funding issues will cost an additional $400 to $900 million dollars annually, estimates largely validated by a year-long study commissioned by the Legislature in 2001.

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