Gov. Asa Hutchinson touted new revenue numbers for the state Tuesday while making the case for further tax cuts. It comes as the Republican and an entourage are preparing for a trip abroad primarily focused on nurturing the state’s aerospace industry.
For fiscal year 2016, which ended at the end of June, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reported Tuesday net available revenue of $5.3 billion. That's $117 million higher than the previous year, though gross general revenue was down about three percent.
The state ended the budget year with a $117.4 million surplus, though Hutchinson is cautioning that some money needs to be put aside.
"As our economy is doing well now, we’re expanding, we have a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, we’re creating jobs, we all know that at some point in time there will be a slowdown of the economy and we want to budget wisely for that."
Still Hutchinson told reporters he will encourage Arkansas lawmakers next year to further reduce income taxes.
There will be additional tax cuts on the agenda of the next session. I’ve not specified the amount; I want to work with the legislature to identify that," he said. "I wanted to have the complete budget numbers in and I want to be careful and cautious about how we approach that, but these numbers are very encouraging as we enter the session."
Hutchinson said some cuts might not be implemented at once, but gradually phased in.
His office also shared details of a state trip to England and Germany, which Hutchinson and state officials will be departing for on Saturday. They’re scheduled to first travel to London to attend the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday, where the state will have a booth.
Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, says they’ll meet with representatives of about 20 companies. Some already have a presence in the state, with officials there to "talk about any impediments that they’re currently having to grow and how to work through that, but then to also recruit new companies."
On Tuesday, July 12, the delegation will travel to Germany, where the state will open an office in Berlin. It will become the third international office for the state, with others in Japan and China.
The group is to return to Arkansas on Thursday, July 14.