LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson presented his balanced budget for fiscal year 2023 on Tuesday morning.
The governor’s new budget has a 3.33% increase over last year’s budget as well as a $175 million cushion.
The budget mentions issues that have been significant in the state, including the COVID-19 response, broadband expansion and other funding projects.
On Monday, Arkansas received the first shipment of more than 200,000 home testing kits that will soon be available at local public libraries, public health offices and other locations. On Tuesday, the state received an additional 333,000 tests.
Hutchinson’s request for $50 million to be distributed to state hospitals was approved by the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Act steering committee, however, the funding still needs to be approved by the state legislature.
The budget mentions expanding broadband and irrigation in eastern Arkansas, which could bring new career opportunities to the Arkansans.
In November, the $3.7 million broadband expansion completed in towns of Earle and Parkinhoping to provide high-speed Internet access to more than 2,000 homes.
The state’s frontline workers will also benefit from this year’s budget plan. The state will provide an additional $7.6 million to the Department of Public Safety for the Arkansas State Police to increase salaries for junior and senior soldiers.
Hutchinson said Arkansas will now become the second-highest starting salary in the Southern Region.
The state also allocates $2.3 million for restitution to victims of crime, which is normally funded by court costs.
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 currently forecasts $6.2183 billion in revenue, which is $104.7 million more than fiscal 2022.