After more than an hour of questioning, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a recommendation to use $825,000 in federal CARES Act money in a state rainy day fund to help Henderson State University to offset revenue lost from the coronavirus-shutdown and to avoid furloughs.
There’s been resistance to helping Henderson, stemming from unhappiness with the leadership of the college by a previous president.
The problems at Henderson led to its joining the Arkansas State University System and new leadership. ASU President Chuck Welch testified today about the campus’ needs.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson had recommended rainy day funding for Henderson. But two key senators resisted approval earlier.
Today, Sen. Bruce Maloch recommended the request be sent with a favorable recommendation to the special six-person legislative leadership committee established to consider emergency funding requests during the pandemic crisis. He noted that the state’s revenue situation had developed better than expected and there’d been an expectation some funding would be restored should that happen.
The Maloch motion was approved by both House and Senate members of the council after a call for a roll call vote.
Approval from the controlling legislative committee seems likely this time. It won approval among three House members of the committee previously but failed among the three Senate members because both Sen. Bart Hester and Senate President Pro Temp Jim Hendren opposed the release without more discussion. Today, Hester continued to oppose the spending, but Hendren voted for Maloch’s motion.