[Masthead] Fair ~ 66°F  
High: 78°F ~ Low: 55°F
Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014
New Rules for Absentee Voting
Posted Thursday, April 17, at 10:14 AM
Absentee voters would get a grace period in which they can present election officials with a copy of their photo ID, under a new rule approved by the state Board of Election Commissioners. However, the procedure by which the rule was issued is under legal challenge. The Board voted on the rule to clarify provisions of Act 595 of 2013, which requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to get a ballot...

Read more   Post comment


Arkansas Grown is the Way to Go
Posted Thursday, April 10, at 9:17 AM

The state Agriculture Department promotes Arkansas products in domestic and international markets, and helps ensure that farm, fiber and forestry products are safe. A relatively new effort of the Department promotes products grown in Arkansas. It is particularly helpful to small growers who don't have a large budget to market their products. ...

Read more   Post comment


Winter Had a Big Impact on Arkansas Schools, Highways
Posted Thursday, April 3, at 9:27 AM

The numerous severe winter storms in Arkansas caused the state Education Department and the Highway and Transportation Department to rethink long-standing policies. The state Board of Education approved waivers for 75 school districts that had canceled classes because of snow, sleet and ice. The waivers allow them to hold classes for fewer than the 178 days of instruction that are required under state law...

Read more   Post comment


Budget Finalized at Fiscal Session
Posted Thursday, March 27, at 10:05 AM

After approving a $5 billion budget for state government, the legislature officially adjourned the 2014 Fiscal Session. All but a few of the 300 bills approved during the session were budgets for state agencies, public schools and institutions of higher education...

Read more   Post comment


Good Planning Led to Peco Foods Project
Posted Thursday, March 20, at 9:11 AM

The creation of 1,000 new jobs in northeast Arkansas by Peco Foods is a testament to the leaders of Randolph, Lawrence and Clay Counties, as well as economic development officials in state government and the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Regional Facilities Authority. ...

Read more   Post comment


Addressing the Needs for Broadband Service
Posted Thursday, March 13, at 10:12 AM

If the legislature gives the measure final approval during the fiscal session, public schools could apply for grants to expand their broadband capacity with new fiber optic cables. The grants would come from a $10 million appropriation from the state surplus. The authorization to spend surplus funds on improved broadband for schools is in Senate Bill 146, sponsored by the Joint Budget Committee...

Read more   Post comment


Highway Construction, Tourism Updated
Posted Thursday, March 6, at 9:05 AM

The largest highway construction program in state history got off to a good start when the Highway Commission opened bids for a $52.7 million project in northwest Arkansas. The project is the next phase in the Bella Vista bypass. It will relieve congestion in that city and eventually become part of the route of Interstate 49 between Canada and New Orleans. ...

Read more   Post comment


Lottery Ticket Sales Lag, Not Good News for Students
Posted Thursday, February 27, at 9:00 AM

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has revised downward its revenue estimate for the current year, from $89.5 million to $82.8 million. Higher education officials are paying close attention to the negative trend because revenue from lottery tickets is the financial foundation for the popular Academic Challenge Scholarship Program. If the decline continues, the amounts of college scholarships may have to be lowered...

Read more   Post comment


Funding Not the Only Issue for Fiscal Session
Posted Thursday, February 20, at 10:00 AM

Although the main purpose of fiscal sessions of the legislature is to approve budgets for state agencies, there is a mechanism for considering non-budget bills. The first step is for sponsors to introduce a resolution on the first day of the fiscal session to authorize the filing of a non-appropriation bill. The resolution states the purpose of the non-budget bill. It must be passed by a two-thirds majority in each chamber...

Read more   Post comment


Review of State Revenue
Posted Thursday, February 13, at 12:26 PM

At the beginning of each month, the state Department of Finance and Administration releases a detailed report on how much tax revenue state government collected during the previous month. Legislators and state officials study the revenue report closely for a couple of reasons. It gives an up-to-date estimate on the status of state agency budgets. Also, it is an accurate gauge of overall health of the Arkansas economy...

Read more   Post comment


Study: Arkansas Students Better Prepared for College
Posted Thursday, February 6, at 10:50 AM

A recent report by the Arkansas Higher Education Department indicates that incoming students are better prepared for college level courses than they were in the past several years. According to records compiled by the state-supported colleges and universities, 43.2 percent of students had to take remedial classes last year. That is the best that Arkansas students have done since 2009...

Read more   Post comment


Distribution of Funds to Be Decided
Posted Thursday, January 30, at 10:32 AM

In addition to approving budgets for state government operations next year, during the fiscal session the legislature will allocate unspent surplus funds that have built up in the state treasury over the previous year. Traditionally, surplus funds are spent on "one time" projects, while recurring expenses such as salaries and maintenance are paid for with tax revenues that are collected every year...

Read more   Post comment


Update on Budget Concerns
Posted Thursday, January 23, at 9:28 AM

During legislative budget hearings in preparation for the 2014 fiscal session, the governor presented a balanced budget proposal for next year that projects more than $5 billion in general revenue spending. The proposed budget calls for an increase in spending next year of $105.8 million. Public schools would receive an additional $65.4 million over the amount of education funding this year. That would bring the Arkansas Public School Fund to $2.11 billion...

Read more   Post comment


A Closer Look at School Funding
Posted Wednesday, January 15, at 4:08 PM

State education funding in Arkansas is based on enrollment, with local school districts receiving extra money for each pupil in attendance from a low-income family. The legislature established the bonus funding for poor students during the 2003-2004 special session that was devoted almost entirely to improving Arkansas public schools. ...

Read more   Post comment


More Changes Brought With the Arrival of 2014
Posted Thursday, January 9, at 12:10 PM

A package of tax cuts took effect at the new year that over time will save Arkansas more than $161 million a year. The major tax reductions are Act 1459 to reduce state income tax rates, Act 1488 to lower state taxes on capital gains and Act 1411 to reduce the sales tax paid by manufacturers on utility bills...

Read more   Post comment


Lottery Tickets and Holiday Meals
Posted Thursday, January 2, at 2:43 PM

Since the state of Arkansas began selling lottery tickets in 2009, about 30,000 students each year have received Academic Challenge Scholarships paid for with proceeds from the lottery. However, revenue generated by lottery sales has steadily dropped off, from more than $100 million annually in the first years to about $90 million. ...

Read more   Post comment


AEDC Working to Put Arkansans to Work
Posted Thursday, December 26, at 10:53 AM

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is a relatively small state agency whose work has a big impact. The AEDC employs 90 people who recruit new industries to Arkansas and who work with existing industries to encourage them to expand their operations. The entire community gets excited about announcements of new industries that create new jobs. It's equally important when an existing industry expands and adds new jobs, but those announcements don't always generate as many headlines...

Read more   Post comment


Arkansas Schools Requiring Greater Broadband Capabilities
Posted Thursday, December 19, at 9:19 AM

Providing greater broadband capabilities to public schools in rural areas is an ongoing project for state policy makers. Last week, a panel of civic leaders, educators and public officials completed a study and sent it to the governor with their recommendations for efficiently bringing enhanced broadband to rural schools...

Read more   Post comment


Budget Surplus Less Than Expected
Posted Thursday, December 12, at 9:23 AM

Budget officials revised their economic forecast for the current fiscal year, and now predict that state government will collect 1.7 percent less in tax revenue than it did last year. The state will still generate sufficient revenue so that all state agencies can meet their budgets. It does reduce the amount of anticipated surplus that is predicted to be available at the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, 2014...

Read more   Post comment


New Developments in School Funding
Posted Thursday, December 5, at 8:31 AM

In a development that has financial implications for every school district in Arkansas, the parties in the 30-year old Pulaski County desegregation case have all agreed to end the suit. Under terms of a 1989 settlement, state government pays about $70 million a year to the three school districts in Pulaski County. ...

Read more   Post comment


View all blog posts (77)

Arkansas State Senate Week in Review
State Senator Robert Thompson
Archives
Blog RSS feed [Feed icon]
Comments RSS feed [Feed icon]
Login
State Senator Robert Thompson (D) of Paragould serves in the Arkansas Senate.