COPY-Ark. lawmakers review audit of Forestry Commission


Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers are reviewing what caused the $4 million budget shortfall that led the Forestry Commission to lay off 34 employees this year.

The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee on Friday planned to review a report from auditors on the financially troubled commission. The commission announced the layoffs last year and initially blamed the shortfall on a drop in timber severance tax revenue.

Finance officials, however, said that the commission had been improperly borrowing from federal funds to prop up its budget. Gov. Mike Beebe on Wednesday announced that money would be shifted in the budget to rehire 15 laid off firefighters.

Some lawmakers have called for state Forester John Shannon's firing over the shortfall, and Beebe has indicated Shannon's future will depend on what auditors find in their review.

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