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Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017

Looking at the budget

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at 10:30 AM

As with every legislative session, one of the greatest challenges we face will be to balance a budget that does not burden tax payers while providing needed services.

This year, we will consider tax exemptions for retired military living in our state and competing proposals for other tax reductions.

Before we can begin any tax reform, we must have a clear picture of the current economic situation for the state.

That is why the House Revenue and Taxation Committee this week began with a review of the Revenue Stabilization Act and the current budget forecast.

Approximately 54 percent of our General Revenue comes from state income tax. Another 36 percent comes from state sales tax.

The current growth rate for revenue is 1.5 percent. Six months into the fiscal year, there is now $38.2 million more in revenue than this time last year. The forecast shows we will fund the current year's budget and will have a $5.4 billion budget to balance for the next fiscal year.

All bills calling for tax cuts have been directed to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. That committee is expected to begin running bills on Thursday of next week.

In the Governor's State of the State address, he asked for the legislature's support not only for his tax proposals, but for increases in funding for foster children in the state and for mental health centers.

He is also requesting the legislature to redirect portions of the tobacco settlement funds to help reduce the number of Arkansans on the waiting list for disability services.

Chairs of standing committees and members of Select Committees were announced moments after members were sworn in on Monday.

The House has posted a list of all committees including chairs and vice-chairs on the House website www.arkansashouse.org.

The House reconvenes on Tuesday at 1:30 pm. s a reminder, the House streams all committee meetings held in the Capitol and all House Chamber proceedings live. ou can also find recorded proceedings in the Video Library on the website.



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Johnny Rye of Trumann is the Representative of District 54.