Legislators Return to Capitol Today After 4-Day Break

JANUARY 18, 2005 - Posted at 7:48 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - They took a four-day break for the holiday weekend, but the Arkansas Legislature is due back in the state Capitol today to deal with education funding and state budgeting.

State Senator Gene Jeffress said it's time to get down to business.  Topping the to-do list, Jeffress said, is finding ways to fund court-ordered physical improvements to public school buildings.  Studies have found that an initial $87 million is needed for critical repairs.

Jeffress, a member of the Senate Education Committee, said he doesn't think that money will come from another tax on Arkansans.  He said that Arkansans seem to be taxed out for a while and legislators should instead look to a $118 million surplus to pay for the initial repairs.

Meanwhile, other state departments were also looking to the surplus to pay for their budget needs.  But Jeffress said it all has to come down to first priorities, which is education this session.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)