Lawmakers Approve Budget Bills, Recess Until Wednesday

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 69 views 

Arkansas lawmakers passed budget bills to support $5 billion in state spending in the next fiscal year.

Wednesday’s short session was a formality to all of the budget proceedings that have taken place during the month of February and early March.

Legislators will meet next Wednesday to officially end the session – a procedural motion known as “sine die” – which will bring the fiscal session to a close. If there is any unfinished business or veto overrides, the General Assembly can consider them next Wednesday before adjournment.

The crucial piece of legislation passed during the 2014 legislative session was funding for the private option, a bipartisan crafted health insurance program that takes federal Medicaid expansion money from the Affordable Care Act and is used to subsidize health insurance for lower income Arkansans.

The funding bill was a contentious vote for many Republican lawmakers who were divided on the measure. It eventually passed the Arkansas House with one vote to spare and the State Senate with no votes to spare.

Other major funding changes in the 2014 session included more money for education and prisons, broadband Internet for schools, and setting aside nearly $100 million in money from a budget surplus.