KASU

Arkansas Fiscal Session 2018

(Left to Right):  Rex Nelson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Wes Brown, Talk Business & Politics; and Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics
Talk Business and Politics

Everyone needed spring break this week to recover from last week’s end of the fiscal session and three-day special session of the Arkansas Legislature.  Two gentlemen who did not take the week off are Talk Business’ Wes Brown and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Rex Nelson.  Talk Business’ Roby Brock sits down with Brown and Nelson to talk about the sessions, medical marijuana, and Governor Hutchinson’s big “smaller” idea.


Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Members of the Arkansas Legislature ended their 2018 session Monday but will return to the state Capitol on Tuesday to address concerns over reimbursement rates arranged by pharmacy benefit managers in state health insurance plans and to tweak laws that could pinch off some federal highway funding.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have approved the state's $5.6 billion budget for the coming year, wrapping up this year's fiscal session in four weeks.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers voted Wednesday to keep the state's Medicaid expansion another year after federal officials said the state can require people on the program to work or volunteer to keep their coverage.

Legislation detailing Arkansas' proposed $5.6 billion budget for the coming year calls for increasing funding for Medicaid and setting aside nearly $64 million in surplus funds.

Lawmakers on Monday got their first look at the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, the budget bill that calls for a nearly $173 million increase in spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Joint Budget Committee is expected to take up the measure on Tuesday.

(left to right) Arkansas state Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) & Arkansas state House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia)
Talk Business and Politics

The legislative session in Little Rock is winding down.  State lawmakers optimistically think they may complete their work by week's end.  But, don't hold your breath.  The big issue holding everything up is Arkansas Works.  Are there enough votes to pass the funding bill for the state's controversial Medicaid expansion program?  Roby Brock with Talk Business and Politics sits down with state House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) and state Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) to find out. 


Arkansas lawmakers have a couple more weeks in this year’s budgeting session to re-approve funding for Arkansas Works, the state’s healthcare program for low-income people. Yet, a handful of state senators and their votes to continue the program remain on the fence.

Arkansas Works  covers about 285,564 low-income people. It also brings in federal dollars that are important to the state budget. The Arkansas Department of Human Services says it would cost the state $148.9 million extra in fiscal year 2019 to continue serving the program’s population without the federal match from Arkansas Works.

Pixabay

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas lawmaker says she'll drop her push to take up the issue of pharmacy reimbursement during the ongoing fiscal session after the governor assured that her proposal will be considered in a special session.

Sen. Ron Caldwell (R-Wynne) and Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) talking with Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics
Talk Business and Politics

The fiscal session is underway in Little Rock, and the big issue for consideration is a tax cut proposal for the top earners in the state.  Governor Hutchinson proposed this during his State of the State address last week.  He wants it to go into effect sometime next year.  State Sen. Ron Caldwell (R-Wynne) and state Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) sat down with Roby Brock of Talk Business for a conversation on this proposal.

 


Arkansas State University

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have advanced a proposal to allow taxpayers with tax-deductible 529 college savings plans to withdraw funds for tuition at public, private and religious K-12 schools.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Monday (Feb. 19) he will call lawmakers back to the State Capitol shortly after the ongoing fiscal session to pass legislation to address growing concerns on rising health costs associated with so-called PBMs, or pharmacy benefit managers.

Pixabay

State Sen. Ron Caldwell, R-Wynne, and Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, both contend that a path for passage of Arkansas Works exists in this fiscal session, but both say their votes are dependent on how federal waivers will affect the program. The two Delta legislators also said they have stipulations before agreeing to any future tax cuts, such as the $180 million top income tax bracket reduction pushed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist
Talk Business and Politics

The fiscal session has begun.  That means all eyes are on the state capitol to see if the Arkansas Works program can survive another close vote for passage, despite the loss of several "yes" votes in the Senate due to deaths and resignations.  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett sits down with Roby Brock of Talk Business to discuss the topic and pay tribute to longtime Parliamentarian of the House Representatives, Tim Massanelli.  Massanelli passed away last week. 


This week lawmakers came to the capitol for a special session to discuss the budget. To vote on anything outside of the budget during a fiscal session, a two-thirds majority must agree, but that bar hasn’t stopped some lawmakers.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on the start of Arkansas' legislative session (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

Arkansas' governor says he wants to cut the income tax for the state's top earners by $180 million, and says his plan to set aside $48 million in surplus money will help set the stage for that reduction.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers Monday he'll push for cutting the state's top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent. Hutchinson issued the recommendation as lawmakers convened for an abbreviated session focused on the state's budget.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a work requirement.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN / KUAR NEWS

Where will the votes come from for Arkansas Works in the upcoming fiscal session? Gov. Asa Hutchinson says it’s less about lawmakers changing their minds and more about reforming a program to satisfy conservative principles.

Arkansas Sen. Johnathan Dismang (R-Searcy)
Talk Business and Politics

Senate President Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, said he believes the votes for Arkansas Works will be found in the upcoming fiscal session and prospects for a special session to deal with a failed vote or other issues is not a goal of his.

Arkansas’s spending on prisons and community corrections got a lengthy examination before a select committee of the state legislature Wednesday, but no legislator took serious issue with the more than half-billion dollar budget.

The Joint Budget Committee took aim at the 2018 budget for the state’s corrections departments, examining everything from health care and prison farms, to the cost of a phone call behind bars.

“If a guy gets put in prison, not only do we put him down there, we fix it to where he can’t even afford to call his family," said state Rep. Kim Hendren (R-Gravette).

Public Education funds in Arkansas are meeting bare minimums set under law and not getting any extra money in the governor’s proposed budget for next year.

Education Commissioner Johnny Key fielded lawmakers’ questions and concerns about the proposed budget at a Joint Budget Committee hearing on education funding Wednesday in advance of February’s fiscal session.