Arkansas Government

Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 Tuesday to the Joint Budget Committee of the Arkansas Legislature.
Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas' governor is proposing a $5.6 billion budget that increases funding for the state's Medicaid program and sets aside surplus money for future tax cuts and highway needs.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday proposed increasing state spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1 by nearly $173 million. Most of that increase goes toward Medicaid. Hutchinson said the funding increase is lower than what was originally proposed for the program last year.

Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie and shows a progress chart to reporters alongside Division of Children and Family Services Director Mischa Martin.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Officials at the Arkansas Department of Human Services say more than 80,000 people were removed from the state's Medicaid rolls in 2017 after new technology and data were used to show they were ineligible for the benefits.

Nearly one-third of those cases involved people who did not report changes of address as required by the state. More than 25,000 people were removed from the program because they were receiving public benefits from more than one state.

UCA Houston Davis
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' governor says a $500,000 grant is being provided to help pay for a new cybersecurity training initiative.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the grant from the Department of Higher Education would go to the University of Central Arkansas to pay for a "cyber range," a dedicated computer system that can simulate a computer network. Students using the cyber range will learn how to identify cyberattacks and defend against them.

Hutchinson said UCA will have state of the art technology available through the Arkansas Educational Television Network.

Stan Jones Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Following two years of interviews for the job, Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Stan Jones to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Tuesday. Jones, a fifth-generation farmer and hunting lodge owner from Walnut Ridge, applauded previous efforts by the commission to promote the outdoors in Arkansas.

“I know we’ve got some difficult situations and issues that we’re going to have to face, but I’ve got a very positive look and attitude on everything, the Game & Fish [Commission] has done a good job, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Jones said.

Arkansas finance officials say the state ended its fiscal year with a $15.7 million surplus after a boost in sales tax collections over the past two months helped restore most of the budget cuts enacted earlier.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state ended the fiscal year with $5.3 billion in net available revenue, which was $19 million below the previous fiscal year. Arkansas' fiscal year ended Friday.

Flooding Black River Pocahontas
KATV, Channel 7 News

New facilities are being opened to provide assistance for people and businesses impacted by the destructive storms that hit parts of Arkansas in the spring. Centers opened last week in Fayetteville, Conway, Pocahontas, and Walnut Ridge to serve people from 16 counties who are eligible for government aid.

Daniel Green with the Federal Emergency Management Agency works with victims of the storms to expedite the process of receiving loans and other government aid.

A state commission will be holding a public hearing Tuesday morning on its proposal to raise salaries by two percent for state elected officials. The Independent Citizens Commission meets at the state Capitol Tuesday at 9am. The commission has proposed pay raises for members of the state judiciary, including Supreme Court justices, Appeals Court justices; state legislators and the state’s seven constitutional officers.  

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he hopes a task force that will recommend changes to Arkansas' tax code will also look at a proposal that failed in this year's legislative session to require online retailers to collect and remit state sales taxes.

Hutchinson told the Arkansas Municipal League on Thursday that he wants the issue to be considered by the legislative task force, which is expected to deliver preliminary recommendations later this year and final ones next year on overhauling the state's tax code.

Governor Asa Hutchinson AEDC Mike Preston
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and economic development officials are planning a week-long trip to France, Germany, and Israel to invite new foreign businesses to Arkansas and bolster economic relationships with international businesses already in the state. 

The base of the 10 Commandments monument was installed earlier this month.
Wesley Brown / Talk Business & Politics

Construction is underway on the foundation of a Ten Commandments monument at the State Capitol, setting up a possible legal showdown on the constitutionality of religious monuments on public property.

On May 11, the State Capitol Arts and Ground Commission unanimously approved a proposal to place a Ten Commandments monument on the west side of the State Capitol grounds, in between the Arkansas Supreme Court and offices of the State Department of Education.

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