State Finance Chief Weary of Legislative Threats

NOVEMBER 22, 2004 - Posted at 7:21 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state finance chief hopes legislative leaders won't follow through on their threat to make across-the-board budget cuts to free up some money for court-ordered improvements for school buildings.

Richard Weiss, director of the state Department of Finance and Administration, says extra money built into the budget for teacher raises could be considered for the improvements, along with a projected $118 million surplus from this fiscal year.

Weiss presented the governor's budget to legislators earlier this month, and it would spend all of a projected $160 million in revenue growth next fiscal year without earmarking any for school upgrades.

Legislators don't want to have to raise taxes or cut services later on if they adopt the governor's budget.  A special committee next week is to provide a better idea of how much money the state will need to make the school building improvements.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)