Legislative Overview: Budget

January 13, 2003
Posted at: 10:40 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The legislative budget committee is making moves to keep Arkansas' core government-funded offices open. The committee approved cutting just over $49 million from the Central Services Fund yesterday to help cover a $70.6 million shortfall.

From the governor's office to the state Department of Finance and Administration, state officers will have to cut spending. A plan also calls to increase the state finance office's charge for revenue collections from three percent to just over three and three quarters percent to generate $2.3 million.

Legislation that would initiate that plan is expected to be approved early in the session that convenes on Monday.

The move to keep the government offices open was the only spending exception that legislators made before what promises to be a belt-tightening regular session.

State agencies will have to make a case for additional funding during the regular session.

Spending cuts could be a problem for agencies such as the state Department of Correction. Prison officials need an extra $17 million to operate hundreds of new beds to help accommodate a record prison population of more than 13,000. They also want the money to reimburse the counties for housing more than one thousand state prisoners backed up in local jails.

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