LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers are considering a proposal to restore 20 firefighting jobs to the financially troubled Arkansas Forestry Commission, but how to pay for those positions remains uncertain.
The Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday planned to discuss whether to add the jobs in the commission budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The commission this month laid off 34 employees to close a $4 million shortfall.
A legislative panel recommended restoring the jobs, but declined to back an increase in the fire protection tax to pay for them. State Forester John Shannon has proposed increasing the tax on private timberlands from 15 cents an acre to 20 cents.
Legislative leaders say they don't expect the tax hike to win support in the fiscal session that begins Feb. 13.
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