Few surprises expected as Ark. budget talks begin

LITTLE ROCK, AR (AP) - Few surprises are expected as Arkansas lawmakers prepare to review Gov. Mike Beebe's budget proposal this week.

Beebe is scheduled to unveil his $4.7 billion budget for the coming fiscal year on Tuesday as the Legislature begins hearings in advance of the fiscal session. By the time Beebe releases the budget, many of the top items will seem like old news.

Beebe has spent the days and weeks leading up to the hearing detailing his proposals, including a $100 million increase in Medicaid funding and $55 million more for public schools.

The hearings will offer a preview of the fights to come in the session that begins Feb. 13. Debates about the Forestry Commission, Medicaid and state worker pay are likely to mark the hearings and session.

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