Arkansas Economy

Arkansas Hospital and Pharmacist Associations are voicing opposition to increasing managed care in Arkansas, in advance of legislators’ vote on a range of Medicaid reforms expected Monday.

The associations say polling of Arkansas voters shows opposition to contracting with managed care companies, which claim to reduce costs and determine healthcare programs for patients. 

Brad Chism, of Chism Strategies, said likely voters responded negatively to managed care across ethnic and partisan lines. Surveyors spoke to 453 respondents. 

Arkansas saw double-digit growth in revenue collections in February as fewer taxpayers received income tax refunds and the state’s predicted surplus from the recently revised fiscal 2016 forecast continued to grow.

According to the state Department of Finance and Administration’s monthly revenue report released Wednesday, February net available general revenue totaled $279.9 million, $61.6 million or a whopping 28.2% above last year and $31.8 million or 12.8% above forecast.

Arkansas’ average jobless rate in 2015 was 5.2%, below the 6.1% in 2014 and well below the 7.4% average in 2013. It is the first time the annual average dropped below 6% since 2008.

Also, broad revisions of labor market data shows that Arkansas’ jobless rate fell below 5% sooner than previously noted, and December’s jobless rate was 4.7% instead of the previously reported 4.8%.

gas-to-liquids GTL

Little Rock-based Energy Security Partners LLC and Pine Bluff officials announced Tuesday that Jefferson County is being considered as the top location to build and operate a potential $3.7 billion industrial gas-to-liquids processing facility.

Interstate 30
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has floated the idea of cutting the state’s largest economic development incentive program as a funding source for highways, but the idea is being resisted by those who say the program cuts the cost of manufacturing plant upgrades and helps retain jobs in Arkansas.

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s was recently awarded a $198.7 million boost to a previous multimillion dollar contract that will enhance production on an anti-ballistic system that President Obama recently touted as a deterrent to North Korea’s nuclear threat.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford Heading To Cuba On Trade Trip

Feb 5, 2016
Representative Congressman Rick Crawford

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, plans to take a trip this spring to Cuba to learn about furthering trade with the Caribbean nation.

Crawford, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, said Friday during the annual meeting of the Arkansas Rice Council that he and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., are coordinating the April trip with lawmakers and agriculture leaders from Arkansas and Louisiana.

An economic forecast report for next year shows an anticipated $106.8 million dollar budget increase from 2016.

The 2 percent increase is a result of tax cuts from last year’s legislative session.

The state currently has $551 million in net available revenue. In January revenue was $31 million dollars above forecast for the month.

The report shows all major collection categories were higher than expected. According to State Economist John Shellnutt, the positive results were due mostly to increased corporate and individual income taxes.

A leading economic indicator for a nine-state region stretching across Midwest America shows that Arkansas businesses saw robust expansion in January which help to lift the state’s economy above “growth neutral” for the first time since October.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

City of Little Rock leaders are encouraging low to middle-income residents to check their eligibility for tax credits as the spring approaches. 

A coalition of city, business, and non-profit leaders are encouraging low-income residents in Little Rock to find out if they qualify.

W.J. Monagle, Executive Director of the Little Rock Workforce Development Board, spoke at City Hall Monday as part of an effort to get the word out about Earned Income Tax Credits.