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Ark. Senate approves $2.6M for forestry agency

The Arkansas Senate has approved using $2.6 million from the state's surplus to keep the financially troubled Arkansas Forestry Commission operating and to repay federal money state official say the commission improperly used to prop up its budget.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Senate has approved using $2.6 million from the state's surplus to keep the financially troubled Arkansas Forestry Commission operating and to repay federal money state official say the commission improperly used to prop up its budget.

By a 34-0 vote Tuesday, senators approved legislation that would tap the state's surplus for the commission's needs.

The commission last year decided to lay off 34 employees after it faced a $4 million shortfall, but the state rehired 15 firefighters after shifting money in the state's budget. State Forester John Shannon resigned this month after an audit criticized his management and said the commission had improperly borrowed more than $6.4 million from federal grants to cover its payroll.

The measure now heads to the House.

 

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