The General Assembly is inching closer to finalizing a balanced budget for the next fiscal year. The pace of this Fiscal Session picked up significantly after the passage of SB121. Speaker Gillam later described the debate about this bill as an extremely professional one with a good civil discourse. With 76 votes, the House sent the appropriation bill to fund medical services for the Department of Human Services to the Governor's desk.
The amended version of SB121 included a sunset clause to end funding for Arkansas Works at the end of this year. Just a few hours after our vote the Governor announced he vetoed the line item for the sunset clause.
The House passed a number of other appropriation bills this week including those for colleges and universities. It is expected to take two to three weeks to review and pass all the needed appropriations before we are presented with the Revenue Stabilization Act.
Under the Revenue Stabilization Law, priorities are set out for the distribution of the General Revenue collections. As the tax dollars are collected, they are distributed first to the funds and in the proportions set out in the A category, then the B category and then the C, if there is one. Each legislative session starts new and sets the amounts, the categories and the priorities.
By law members have three days to review the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act before being asked to vote. When it is distributed, we will post a copy on our website for the public to review.
And on a final note, we were presented with even more good news about the future of Arkansas's economy this week. Our unemployment rate continues to decline. The March unemployment rate was at 4.0 percent. That is down from 5.5 percent during the same month last year.
Knowing that more Arkansans are working helps to complete this next year's budget with a positive outlook.
We will continue to update you. And remember, you can watch all House proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org