LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson presented his balanced budget for the 2023 fiscal year Tuesday morning.
The governor’s new budget has a 3.33% increase from last year’s budget along with a $175 million dollar cushion.
The budget mentions issues that have been prominent in the state, including the COVID-19 response, broadband expansion and other funding projects.
On Monday, Arkansas received the first shipment of over 200,000 at-home testing kits which will soon be available at public local libraries, public health units and other locations. Tuesday, the state received 333,000 more tests.
Hutchinson request for $50 million be distributed to hospitals around the state was approved by the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee, however, the funding still must be approved by the state legislative.
The budget mentions broadband and irrigation expansion in eastern Arkansas, which could bring new career opportunities to Arkansans.
In November, the $3.7 million broadband expansion was completed in towns of Earle and Parkin, in hopes of providing high-speed internet to more than 2,000 homes.
Front-line workers in the state will also benefit from this year’s budget plan. The state will provide an additional $7.6 million dollars to the Department of Public Safety for the Arkansas State Police to raise pay for beginning and senior state troopers.
Hutchinson said Arkansas will now become the second highest starting salary in the Southern region.
The state is also allocating $2.3 million for crime victim restitution, which is normally funded by court fees.
The budget also includes $500,000 for adult education, two new drug ports in northeast Arkansas and stable funding for Child Advocacy Centers.
The state is currently forecasting $6.2183 billion in revenue, which is $104.7 million more than the 2022 fiscal year.