- Cheree Franco
- Beebe talks about fiscal cliff
Gov. Beebe didn’t offer many specifics after his Roosevelt Room meeting with President Obama and five other governors regarding the fiscal cliff. He said that he came away optimistic, because bipartisan governors were able to come to a consensus, so perhaps Congress will follow suit. That consensus seems to be vague, though. The governors agreed that they don’t want to see the country go over the cliff and that all states and the federal government will have to share the burden. And if anyone is wondering how to get the President’s ear, Beebe said he is the point man. According to President Obama, V.P. Biden has never left a governor’s phone call unreturned.
The group of governors didn’t get into specific cliff-avoidance plans, but they did ponder if states will be relieved of federal obligations regarding specific programs that will be slashed. “If the state has to lose $100 million, then we need to lose $100 million in federal requirements,” Beebe said.
The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration has a preliminary list of program cuts complied from Federal Funds Information for States, should Arkansas lose federal grants. The biggest cut, nearly $12 million, would come from Title I grants to local education agencies. The U.S. Department of Education would determine which institutions lose funding, but these grants largely go to public schools that serve low-income children. According to Brandon Sharp, Administrator for Fiscal and Budget, the cuts wouldn’t take place till 2013-2014 school term, which gives Congress extra time to find another solution. Next in lines for cuts are special education programs, Head Start and WIC. See the list here: FFIS_VIP_Series_Sequester_Reductions.pdf
At the press conference, Beebe also weighed in on the state universities’ coaching changes. “I was surprised with the U of A’s pick. U of A had kept that a really good secret or that didn’t become an option till this weekend…This guy’s got a good track record, and I’m sure he’s a very good, competent coach, and I’m sure Wisconsin hated to lose him. Malzahn, I’m obviously very disappointed…but it’s a place that a lot of people want to go. I don’t know another school in the country that’s had two SEC coaches hired in two years, so it’s obviously a desirable job… and a program on the rise. They’ll end up with a good choice.”