2:30 P.M. UPDATE:
The House on Thursday approved the budget for the state treasurer by an 84-3 vote after the college savings provision was removed. The bill had failed twice previously in the House this week over objections to the savings provision.
The bill now heads to the Senate.
Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.
—The Associated Press
House lawmakers Thursday voted to strip controversial policy language from a spending bill for the treasurer’s office, ending a standoff that Republicans had claimed could lead to a state government shutdown.
Democrats had refused to budge over their objections to the language, which would extend tax benefits to families that withdraw funds from their state-run 529 college savings plans to pay for K-12 education expenses, including private school tuition.
The appropriation, House Bill 1122, needed 75 votes to pass. While there are enough House Republicans to pass spending bills by themselves, they were a single vote short in a vote held Wednesday.
Convening at 11 a.m. Thursday, House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R- Judsonia, said the chamber had reached an “impasse” and the bill lost more votes since the day before.
Instead of holding another vote, the House budget chairman, Rep. Lane Jean, R-Magnolia, offered an amendment that would strip the 529 plan language from the bill. Passing the amendment with a voice vote, the House sent the appropriation back to the budget committee.
If the committee recommends the latest version of the spending bill, it can be reconsidered by the House.
Gillam said the policy changes to the 529 plans will instead be considered separately during a special session planned for next week, where it will only need a simple majority to pass.