Why Arkansas state jobs are disappearing
Arkansas’ state government is facing a “crisis of confidence” and is “draining” funds, according to a report.
The state budget deficit has reached $9 billion, with more than $1 billion of it coming from the state government’s general fund, the Associated Press reported.
The deficit was nearly $5 billion in 2016.
In March, the Arkansas Supreme Court found that state legislators had not properly approved a $6 billion bond measure that would have funded the state’s debt for the next 20 years.
The bond was approved by the legislature on July 15, but a judge issued a stay on that decision after lawmakers failed to get the full legislative approval of the measure.
The budget crisis is forcing state leaders to spend more time and money on education and health care, but the state is also spending more on public safety.
The Associated Press reports that the state spends about $4.5 billion on police and corrections in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, and about $1.4 billion on other state functions.
That spending was about $2.7 billion more than in 2016, the AP reports.
More education and other public safety issues are making it harder for the state to spend money.
The AP reports that there are nearly 1,500 fewer public school teachers and 1,400 fewer state employees, and that the number of state employees in the state corrections department dropped to 632 in 2018 from 1,851 in 2016 and 2,034 in 2015.
The AP notes that Arkansas is not alone in having a crisis of confidence in its finances.
The Washington Post reported in December that the federal government is seeing a similar situation in its own budget.