Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Daily Radio Report


87th General Assembly

State of Arkansas


Day 2 of the 2010 Tuesday

Fiscal Session February 9, 2010


This is Senator _____ reporting from the state Capitol with news of Tuesday's activities in the Arkansas state Senate.

The Senate did not meet on Tuesday because of icy conditions throughout central Arkansas. Several committees postponed their meetings and all state government offices in Little Rock were closed for the day.

However, many lawmakers are staying in apartments and hotels nearby, and they managed to make it in to the Capitol. So we did get some work done in impromptu meetings.

Also, the House of Representatives met to consider the General Appropriations Bill, which sets salaries for elected officials, constitutional officers and judges.

Because of the economic downturn, state revenues have fallen off and state employees will not get a raise next fiscal year.

Legislators believe that everyone should share in the sacrifices needed to balance the budget, and we should not force rank and file employees to bear the brunt of budget cuts. Therefore, everyone from top to bottom will go without a pay raise next year, including lawmakers.

We hope to get back on track Wednesday, if the weather permits. One of the first issues we'll debate in the Joint Budget Committee is how to allocate moneys in the state's rainy day fund.

All areas of state government have critical needs, from education to health care to prisons. There is only so much money in the reserve fund and it isn't nearly enough to go around, so I expect there will be sharp differences of opinion.

It's always easier to write budgets when there is plenty of money in the general revenue fund, but this year we've had to cut spending in general revenue by about $206 million. That means we're facing a lot of very difficult decisions on financial issues.

From the state Capitol, this is Senator _____ wishing you a good day.

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