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The Latest: Governor seeks overhaul of agencies, boards

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) addressing a joint session of the state House and Senate.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressing the state Legislature on the second day of the 2017 session (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he wants to improve state government's performance by overhauling its agencies, boards and commissions.

Hutchinson on Tuesday said the state needs to eliminate unnecessary boards and commissions and also called for realigning state agencies. The Republican governor has said the move would help the state wisely use taxpayer money and provide better services for residents.

Hutchinson has called for several changes to state agencies during this year's session, including moving War Memorial Stadium under the control of the state Parks and Tourism Department.


11:05 a.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says a new grant program he's advocating would help assure opportunity for the next generation.

Hutchinson on Tuesday touted his proposed ArFuture Grants program, which would provide two years of tuition and fees at an Arkansas community or technical college to any student who enrolls in a high demand field of study, such as computer science or welding. Hutchinson has proposed funding the program by redirecting $8.2 million in general funds from other grant programs.

The Republican governor said the program would make it possible for a student to get a two-year degree or certificate without any debt.

Hutchinson is also urging lawmakers to tie higher education funding to performance factors such as graduation rates.

Hutchinson spoke to a joint session of the House and Senate.


11 a.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is asking lawmakers to form a task force to recommend further changes to the state's tax code, calling for deeper reforms as he faces divisions with fellow Republicans over dueling tax cut plans.

Hutchinson called on lawmakers Tuesday to enact his $50 million tax cut for more than 600,000 people making less than $21,000 a year. The Republican governor has faced resistance from some lawmakers who say they want to see deeper cuts that will take effect sooner.

Hutchinson also urged lawmakers to approve his proposed $13 million tax break for military veterans.

Hutchinson said the task force would focus on further reducing income tax rates in Arkansas to make the state more competitive.


10:50 a.m.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state can play a "leading role" in shaping the future with more authority expected to be given to the states under the Trump administration.

The Republican governor told lawmakers during his State of the State address Tuesday that Arkansas had a unique opportunity to innovate in areas such as education and health care. Hutchinson addressed a joint session of the House and Senate a day after lawmakers convened the 91st General Assembly.

Hutchinson called the state of the state "exceptional," citing a growth in Arkansas' population and its economy.

The Legislature convened Monday facing divisions over Hutchinson's $50 million tax cut plan as well as questions about how to start a medical marijuana program voters approved in November.


6:03 a.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is making his case to lawmakers for a legislative agenda that includes a $50 million plan to cut taxes for low-income residents.

Hutchinson planned to address a joint session of the House and Senate on Tuesday, a day after the 91st General Assembly convened for this year's session.

Hutchinson is pushing for a tax cut for Arkansans making less than $21,000 a year, but he faces resistance from fellow Republicans who want to see deeper cuts that take effect sooner.

He's also calling for tying money for colleges and universities to factors such as their graduation rates, and ending the state's practice of commemorating Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day.