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Proposed AR Budget Faces Unclear Future, MS Proposal Targets Public Education, Workforce

November 20, 2014

Over the last couple weeks, governors in Arkansas and Mississippi presented budgets to their stage legislature. In Arkansas, term-limited Gov. Mike Beebe presented two budget proposals for the 2015-17 biennial budget to state lawmakers. However, Gov.-elect Asa Hutchison also will present a budget to the legislature that may differ from Gov. Beebe’s proposal and potentially impact funding for state agencies due to a proposed $100 million individual income tax cut. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant released his fiscal year 2016 (FY16) executive budget recommendations highlighted by a $52 million increase in funding for public education including a $3 million commitment for the Mississippi Works Scholarship Program.

Outgoing Gov. Beebe presented two FY16 budget proposals to the Arkansas General Assembly. Although the term-limited governor will be no longer hold office when the budget is approved, he is required by state law to submit a budget. Gov. Beebe presented two budgets to assembly members: one including almost $26 million in scheduled tax cuts and one that would delay those cuts. The two budgets provide Gov. Beebe’s insight on how delaying, or not delaying, those cuts would impact funding for state agencies/programs and the overall finical health of the state. Read the announcement…

Gov. Beebe’s economic development efforts are highlighted by continued support for the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (ASTA) to support innovation and economic growth through S&T. During FY15, ASTA requests approximately $40.2 million including:

  • $6.5 million for programs under the Arkansas Acceleration Fund;
  • $1.9 million for the Arkansas Research Match program with $292,653 for operations; and,
  • $65,430 for the creation of the ASTA Assistant Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education to oversee the STEM Education Grant programs.

This proposal, however, may be dramatically different from the budget that is approved during the 2015 legislative session due to the recommendations of the incoming governor. Gov.-elect Asa Hutchison stated that he will prioritize the state’s budget over the coming weeks including a review of outgoing Gov. Beebe’s proposal and the release of his own proposed budget.  He has until January 12, 2015 – the first day of Arkansas’ legislative session – to submit his recommendations to the committee. At this time, it is unclear how Gov.-elect Hutchison’s budget will differ from Gov. Beebe’s proposal. However, the Gov.-elect remains committed to the $100 million individual income tax cut that was central to his successful bid for governor according to the Courier News. This commitment could raise funding concerns including potential budget cuts for state’s agencies and proposed initiatives.

Gov. Bryant presented his FY16 budget recommendation of $6.2 Billion to the Mississippi legislature, the proposal is highlighted by a commitment of $2.5 billion in funding for public education – an increase of more than $52 million over appropriated FY15 funding. This increase in funding would include $3 million for the creation of the Mississippi Works Scholarship Program, a workforce training initiative to help high school students in technical fields go to community college to enhance their job skills.

In addition to the increase for public education, the governor also calls for a $30.3 million commitment for economic development efforts – a $6.2 increase in funding over appropriated FY15 funding levels. The majority of that funding would focus on traditional economic development efforts including marketing and incentives for business relocation/expansion projects. However, the economic development recommendations include:

  • $1 million for the Mississippi State University (MSU) Engineering Research and Development (R&D) Center – a university-led initiative to support high-quality R&D at MSU, cultivate a skilled engineering workforce, and create economic prosperity across the state. The funding would be administered by the Mississippi Development Authority.
  • Innovative Mississippi would receive $1 million in funding, the same level as FY15, to support innovation and technology-based economic development across the state.

Gov. Bryant also calls for an increase in funding for the State Workforce Investment Board and Mississippi Employment Security Commission to train workers for jobs in advanced manufacturing. Read Gov. Bryant’s recommendations…

Arkansas, Mississippistate budget, state tbed, stem, higher ed