LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday morning that he is wanting to reduce state departments by more than 50%.
Hutchinson wants to re-organize state agencies into fewer than 20 departments as part of his cabinet.
There are 43 state departments that currently report to the governor.
Hutchinson said, "This will provide more accountability, improve service, and be more efficient in taxpayer dollars."
"This will be the first major reform in 47 years," Governor Hutchinson said. "In 1972, then-Governor Dale Bumpers led an effort to reduce the number of state agencies from 60 to 13 major departments. In the nearly 50 years since, our state government has reversed course, and now there are more than 40 state agencies that have cabinet-level status. By contrast, the federal government has only 15. To lead responsibly, we must take conservative measures such as this to transform state government."
Hutchinson says state universities and ARDOT are not part of the consolidation effort and says those are independent agencies.
This new initiative started with Senate Bill 1202 that former Senator Eddie Joe Williams sponsored in 2015.
The bill directed the executive branch to consider this type of reform in the organization of state agencies.
In addition, the Transformation Advisory Board (TAB), which the governor created in 2017, also recommended a restructuring of state government agencies in order to deliver services in a more effective way and to reduce costs.
Hutchinson says he plans on doing this through merging of departments, not filling some open positions, and not through layoffs.
The next step is for the Transformation Advisory Board to gather ideas from state employees, agency directors, and legislators.
Hutchinson's opponent in the GOP primary on May 22, Jan Morgan, said she welcomes the idea and that it has been something she has discussed with voters for some time.
"We are regulating our businesses out of business," Morgan said. "We are taxing our citizens into poverty and we are enslaving our citizens with entitlements. Well deregulation and cutting the number of agencies, those are things I've been talking about on the campaign trail for months."
Region 8 News is continuing to follow this breaking news and will have more information as it becomes available.