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Gov. Hutchinson outlines $5.75 billion biennial budget, teacher raise and tax cuts chief priorities


Governor says budget request reflects state's shared priorities


By Wesley Brown
Arkansas Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (Nov. 14) laid out his budget priorities for the upcoming 2019 legislative session that includes an average $4,000 annual raise for Arkansas teachers and a sizable $111 million tax cut reducing the top income bracket from 6.5% to 5.9% by 2023.

In his much-anticipated appearance before the Joint Budget Committee, Gov. Hutchinson told lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol that his biennial budget request reflected the state’s shared priorities going into 2019 and beyond. Overall, Hutchinson’s $5.75 billion budget request for the upcoming fiscal year 2020 would increase by 2.3%, or $125 million above the fiscal 2019 budget of $5.6 billion, which ends June 30, 2019. The 2021 fiscal budget request would rise another 2.3% to nearly $5.88 billion.

“This budget reflects priorities that I hope we all share together – and I know that we do,” Hutchinson told lawmakers. “This budget reflects a commitment to teachers and education needs and a commitment to tax cuts … Public safety is a priority and tools to spur economic growth continues as part of our budget.”

Before shifting gears and offering details of his budget plan, Hutchinson emphasized to legislators, lobbyists and policymakers gathered in the spacious “Big Mac” meeting room that past dependence on one-time surplus and rainy-day funding for Medicaid and other key budget requests would come to an end.

“If you recall four years ago, we came in here using $50 million and $60 million-dollar figures for one-time funding for Medicaid (and) for other needs in our states. You will see in this (plan) that we have made it a true budget without reliance on one-time funding,” said Hutchinson, who was re-elected by an overwhelming majority in the Nov. 6 election. READ MORE.

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