Governor Unveils Grocery Tax Cut that Would Trim $253 Million from Budget

JANUARY 17, 2007 - Posted at 11:06 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Gov. Mike Beebe today provided details of his proposed budget. Beebe proposes a grocery-tax cut that would trim $253 million from Arkansas' budget over the next two years, including $174 million from the state general revenue fund that supports the everyday workings of state government.

Budget figures released at a meeting of the Joint Budget Committee did not address how to spend a $843 million surplus the state expects to have at the end of the current fiscal year. The grocery tax cut makes up the bulk of a proposed $289  million-dollar tax reduction.

Beebe's budget figures addressed the grocery-tax cut's impact on general revenues. The state's chief fiscal officer, Richard Weiss, says that when Arkansas trust funds and earmarked revenues -- such as those for schools -- are added, the grocery tax cut would trim $253 million dollars in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Beebe's budget proposes increasing money for the state's public schools by $81 million in fiscal year 2008 and $121million the following year.

Weiss says the figure includes Beebe's proposed $19 million in school funding and $40 million for expanded preschool programs -- exceeding levels set by legislators previously.

The budget also would increase college funding by $64 million dollars for fiscal year 2008 and $93 million in fiscal year 2009. It the highest proposed increase in years.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)