The Joint Budget Committee today defeated a proposal by Sen. Will Bond (D-Little Rock) to earmark $2.5 million in the rainy day fund for senior centers.
Bond said there were 200 centers statewide that enabled people through meals on wheels and other programs to live healthier better lives. He said there’d been other efforts to recoup support for senior centers, with growing needs, but no guaranteed funding.
The governor’s budget officials said he opposed further earmarks from the rainy day fund that he controls but for specified set-asides. The vote for the amendment was 27 in favor, with 29 needed for passage.
Almost $85 million is expected to be available in the funding. About $55 million is earmarked for prisons, the governor’s quick action closing fund for economic development projects, the UAMS Cancer Research Institute, the University of Arkansas agriculture division, a school voucher program for students with special learning needs and the state Military Department.
Bond said he appreciated the governor’s promise to talk about allocating money from various potential sources provided in other legislation, but this amendment was the only way to guarantee it. Asked why he’d waited until now to propose the amendment, he said it was because the need wasn’t known until the revenue stabilization act and rainy day fund proposal were made available for legislative review Friday afternoon. Many legislators have no role in arriving at those proposals, he noted.
The vote came as the Joint Budget Committee sent the state spending bill to the floor without debate. The legislature is to conclude later this week with a recess that will allow a return to correct any errors.