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Gov Beebe: 15 firefighters to go back to work

Gov. Mike Beebe says 15 firefighters with the Arkansas Forestry Commission will be put back to work this month after a shift of money within the state's budget.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gov. Mike Beebe says 15 firefighters with the Arkansas Forestry Commission will be put back to work this month after a shift of money within the state's budget.

Beebe's office on Wednesday said he has ordered the Arkansas Agriculture Department to reallocate $550,000 annually in ongoing funds from its budget to the Forestry Commission. The move will allow the firefighting positions to be restored in 11 counties.

The agency laid off 34 workers this year to close a $4 million shortfall. Although it initially blamed the shortfall on a drop in timber severance tax revenue, finance officials said the commission improperly borrowed federal funds for its operations.

Lawmakers last week proposed restoring 20 firefighting jobs to the commission without a recommendation on how to pay for them.

 

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