Arkansas lawmakers are to formally adjourn the bi-annual fiscal session of the legislature Monday, with a general consensus that it was a productive, bi-partisan effort.
Last week included passage of a formal budget for the coming fiscal year. The start of the session saw debate and eventually approval of legislation to allow Arkansas to accept federal healthcare dollars to continue the state's Medicaid expansion plan, providing coverage for more than a quarter million low income residents.
Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram, a Democrat from West Memphis, says he's satisfied.
"I think that once we got Arkansas Works put to bed, then everything else sort of fell into place," he said. "That was the key piece of legislation because without it, we were looking at tremendous budget shortfalls."
After final passage of the budget Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised lawmakers for their work in the session. Ingram said it showed both major political parties can work together, even in a time of heightened partisan bickering.
"It demonstrated that Democrats and Republicans can work together for common goals that are good for their state and to me that's the big message that came out of the session."
Now lawmakers and the governor are preparing for a special session to begin May 19 to address a shortfall in state highway funding.
Hutchinson is looking at using general revenue and money from rainy day funds to ensure Arkansas gets federal matching dollars so that needed road work can be completed.
But Ingram says he’s concerned about the use of one time money and believes a long-term solution to fund highway work needs to be devised.