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Arkansas Fiscal Session Preview with Senate President Bart Hester

Senate President Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, previews the upcoming fiscal session. ( Roby Brock / YouTube )

In this episode of Talk Business and Politics, host Roby Brock delves into the upcoming Arkansas legislative fiscal session with Senate President Bart Hester.

The session will see more than $6 billion budgeted with debates focusing on spending priorities for schools, prisons, health care, and more. Hester discusses the expected budget surplus of around $77-78 million, attributing the smaller surplus to deliberate tax cuts and expressing confidence in the state's reserves.

Despite no planned tax cuts for the fiscal session, Hester hints at potential tax reduction discussions by the end of June, based on the fiscal year-end surplus. The episode also covers the LEARNS Act's impact on the budget, with raised teacher salaries and expanding education freedom accounts.

Additionally, expectations for spending on prisons and Medicaid are outlined, with Hester emphasizing the need for action and accountability, particularly in the Department of Corrections. The discussion then turns to future Medicaid reforms and the importance of focusing on vulnerable populations, such as foster children.

Concluding with the anticipated legislative audit report on a controversial lectern, Hester predicts divided public reaction.

00:32 Preview of the Arkansas Legislative Fiscal Session

01:00 Budget Surplus and Tax Cuts: A Discussion with Senate President Bart Hester

02:30 Addressing Big Budget Items: Education and EFAs

03:31 Challenges in Prisons and Medicaid Spending

05:03 Future Plans and Reforms in Medicaid

06:32 The Lectern Audit Controversy

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Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics.
This content has been contributed by the staff of our content partners Talk Business and Politics.