A new analysis of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s budget by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families finds it weighted toward more tax cuts and away from adequately funding education and services for children.
Tax cuts in 2013, 2015 and 2017 have taken $300 million from the state revenue stream and Hutchinson’s idea to squirrel away a significant chunk in the coming year for another potential tax cut increases pressure on other state agencies.
In the end, the Advocates say, only $35 million is available for other agencies to cope with rising costs and special needs.
If approved by the Legislature, the Governor’s proposed budget means a number of important state agencies serving vulnerable children and families will receive no new funding for FY19. Those include the following divisions at the Department of Human Services: Youth Services (DYS), Development Disability Services, Behavioral Health, County Operations, and Child Care and Early Childhood Education – as well as other programs outside of DHS, such as Child Support Enforcement and the Department of Health.
The Governor’s proposed budget would provide no new funding for programs critical to the future ability of our children to succeed, such as pre-K (Arkansas Better Chance Program) and community-based programs for juvenile justice. It also means no funding to begin state implementation of the Positive Youth Development Act of 2011 (quality after-school and summer programs) and no funding to implement most of the recommendations of the 2016 report of the legislative taskforce on special education.
In other words, less is less. Efficiency in government means reduced services. Tax cuts mean reduced services. Those who need it most are first affected. And least influential.