Gov. Asa Hutchinson presented a budget for next year to the Legislative Council this morning and it favors building the state surplus over enhancing state services.
The Associated Press’ Andrew DeMillo says Hutchinson would increase spending by 1.5 percent, mostly to cover rising Medicaid costs.
But he also wants to add an unspecified amount to an existing long-term reserve of $152 million. Times are uncertain, he said.
Legislative leaders such as Sen. Jim Hendren crowed this morning about the “balanced” budget. It is required by the Constitution. It seems likely to continue a years-long pattern of falling short of providing adequate education funding and shorting other state needs. He’s borrowed in numerous ways before from general revenue to pay for highway costs, for example, and wants voters to enact yet another tax increase for roads.
The governor also hopes to save money by privatizing some prison beds, a recipe for disaster based on past experience.
But we have a balanced budget. And we have a growing surplus, increasingly under the control of the governor for pet projects such as corporate welfare handouts to Chinese communists who sometimes hire his son’s law firm for consulting work.
If the past is prologue, poor people can expect more pain in restrictions on Medicaid, food stamps, services for the disabled and other vital needs.