The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would transfer $50 million from the state's general revenue allotment reserve fund to a school safety set-aside account in the state's restricted reserve fund.
With two senators voting present and two others absent, the Senate's 30-1 vote sent Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, to the House for further consideration.
The state's general revenue allotment reserve fund balance totals $1.378 billion after that much of the state's $1.628 billion general revenue surplus in fiscal 2022 that ended June 30 was transferred to the fund, and the other $250 million of the general revenue surplus was distributed to other funds as already authorized by the governor and the Legislature, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration.
Irvin, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, told the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday the recommendations of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's School Safety Commission will be put together with an assessment about school safety through the House and Senate Education Committee's educational adequacy review in developing the school safety grant program. The commission's recommendations are due by Oct. 1.
SB2 would grant the state Department of Education $50 million in spending authority for school safety grants in fiscal 2023 that started July 1 and ends June 30, 2023.
Under the legislation, the state Department of Education is barred from beginning the process of promulgating rules for the distribution of the funds in the school safety set-aside until authorized by the Legislative Council.
The department also is prohibited from disbursing any funds in the school safety set-aside until the rules have been approved by the Legislative Council under the bill.
Under SB2, the state's chief fiscal officer may transfer funds from the restricted reserve school safety set-aside fund after receiving prior approval of the greater of three-fifths of the quorum or a majority of the Legislative Council or, if the General Assembly is in session, the Joint Budget Committee, for the Department of Education to distribute funds for the school safety grant program.