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Arkansas House, Senate OK budget bills, wrap up fiscal session

by Michael R. Wickline | April 16, 2020 at 11:20 a.m.
FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this file photo.

The Arkansas House and Senate on Thursday completed action on identical versions of the state’s proposed $5.89 billion general revenue budget for the coming fiscal year and wrapped up action in the state’s fiscal session amid the covid-19 pandemic.

The state’s latest revenue forecast would provide $5.68 billion for that budget in fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1, and leave $212.2 million of that budget unfunded.

Two weeks ago, the state Department of Finance and Administration cut the fiscal 2021 forecast for net general revenue available to state agencies by $205.9 million, citing an expected recession from the pandemic.

Identical versions of the bill that sets spending priorities — the Revenue Stabilization Act — cleared the Senate and House, respectively on Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate Thursday voted 35-0 to send House Bill 1096 to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, while the House voted 98 to 0 with one voting present to send Senate Bill 83 to the Republican governor.

Rep. Lane Jean, R-Magnolia, said fiscal year 2021 “is going to be a tight year” for the state budget.

“We hope for the best. We are in unchartered territory,” he said Wednesday.

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