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Arkansas state budget

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Arkansas state budget

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Budget calendar:  Annual
Fiscal year:  2013
Date signed:  March 5, 2012
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Arkansas operates on an annual budget cycle. Its fiscal year begins July 1.

Gov. Mike Beebe signed the $4.7 billion budget Arkansas FY2013 state budget into law on March 5, 2012.[1] Highlights of the budget included $114 million funding increase for Medicaid and $56 million more for public schools while agency funding remained static.[1]

As of October 2011, Arkansas had a total state debt of approximately $25,020,643,000, when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and 2011 budget gap. [2]

As of October 2012, Arkansas's total state debt per capita was $8,492.56.[3]

See also: The Arkansas State Budget on State Budget Solutions

Federal Aid to State Budget

The chart below represents how much of the state’s budget comes from the federal government. The number is the corresponding ranking in relation to the rest of the nation (if #1, the state receives the highest percentage of federal funding in the nation):

State 2008 2009 2010 2011
Arkansas 30.7% (#22) 32.53% (#28) 36.22% (#26) 36.17% (#27)
  • Figures are calculated by dividing each state’s intergovernmental revenue into its general revenue.[4][5]

Budget transparency

See also: Evaluation of Arkansas state website
See also: Constitutional provisions regarding reading of bills

Arkansas does not have a constitutional provision providing a period of legislative review before the legislature can vote on a budget bill.

Arkansas launched its statewide, official spending database online here on July 6, 2012.[6] The Department of Finance and Administration has created a statewide contracts procurement Web site.

The good

  • Site has a search function and is easy to navigate.
  • Expenditures are updated daily.[7]
  • Revenues are listed by source, type, agency and functions.[8]
  • Employee salaries are listed and updated monthly.[9]
  • Budget is published.[10]
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information under their respective office.[11]
  • Administrative officials are listed with contact information under respective agencies.[12]
  • Information on the state ethics commission is provided.[13]
  • State tax information is posted.[14]
  • Annual financial audits are published.[15]
  • Statewide contracts are published, with standard contracts in excess of $25,000 published, construction contracts in excess of $20,000 published, and single purchase orders in excess of $25,000 published.[16]

The bad

  • Full text of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act is posted, but no form/contact information for requesting records is provided.[17]
  • Only provides lobbyist forms. No information on state paid lobbying or database of registered lobbyists is posted.[18]

Legislation

In 2011, the State approved a proposal by Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr to create a state "online checkbook." The website, which will contain information on all state expenditures, had an upfront cost of $550,000 for the initial creation of the site. Ongoing site operations were estimated at $250,000 annually.[19] The Lt. Gov.'s statement upon implementation of the online checkbook can be found here.

Government tools

The following table is helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by the state on budget and spending related activities. Arkansas does not have a specific state spending and transparency database, but it does provide spending information on its government website:

Criteria for evaluating spending databases
State Database Searchability Grants Contracts Line Item Expenditures Dept/Agency Budgets Public Employee Salary
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration
{{{1}}}
P
Partial.png
P
Partial.png
N
600px-Red x.png
{{{1}}}
P
Partial.png
  • The website has a search function.[20]
  • State contracts are posted, but dollar amounts are not included.[21] Current bids and potential awards are listed.[22]
  • Grant programs are listed, but specific information on them is not.[23]
  • Agency budget totals are available.[24][25][26]
  • Line item, actual expenditures are not published.
  • Public employee salaries are not available. Pay schedules are posted.[27]

Independent transparency sites

None.

Multi-Measure Budget Transparency Profile

The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois has created a multi-measure transparency profile for Arkansas, which measures state transparency as of September 2011 using indicators from a range of organizations, including Sunshine Review. These indicators measure both website transparency and other recognized facets of governmental transparency. In addition, IGPA presents four unique indicators of non-transparency based on the observation that transfers or reassignments between general and special funds can obscure the true fiscal condition of a state.

In addition to the individual state profile, IGPA offers a 50-state comparison and profiles for other states.

U.S. PIRG Following the Money report

See also: Following the Money 2014 Report

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites, entitled Following the Money in April 2014, which measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[28] Arkansas received the grade of B- and a numerical score of 82, indicating Arkansas was an advancing state in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[28]

Budget background

Arkansas’ Revenue Stabilization Law (Act 311 of 1945) requires the state to designate budget funding to be prioritized into 3 categories: A, B-1, and B. FY 2010 budget funded all A level budgets 100% with partial funding for B level budgets at 54%. New programs must start in the B category. This innovative model has been credited with keeping the state’s budget deficits low and manageable during difficult times.[29]

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in November 2008 requiring annual legislative sessions and appropriations no longer than one fiscal year effective in 2009.[30] Previously, Arkansas’ legislature met and budgeted on a biennial basis. The annual budget began in FY2010.[31]

The budget schedule requires the Governor to submit his budget to the Legislature in November before they convene. The Legislature meets January to April (January 12 to May 1 in 2009) and needs a three-fourths majority to pass the budget. The fiscal year begins July 1st and ends June 30th.[32]

When crafting the state budget, state agencies project what funding is needed to operate their programs and those funding requests are then divided into three categories: A, B and C.

  • Category A is essential programs, including education, corrections, public assistance, transportation and Medicaid.
  • Category B is cost-of-living increases for all agencies, necessary expansions of programs like Medicaid, and new programs that fill a critical need. The state’s $10 million community corrections project, for example, went into this category.
  • Category C is a wish list of new programs lawmakers and agency heads would like to start.

Funding goes first to the items in category A, and then on to category B, and if anything is left over, some C projects may get funded. If revenues fall short of initial projections, the chief fiscal officer can make across-the-board cuts — first from C, then from B, and lastly from A.[33]

See also: Arkansas state budget (2008-2009) for more information.

Accounting principles

See also: Arkansas government accounting principles

The Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit is responsible under the Legislative Joint Audit Committee (A.C.A. 10-3-407)[34] for independent auditing of state and local entities.

Roger A. Norman is the current Arkansas Legislative Auditor. Audit reports are published on the division’s Web site.[35]

Credit Rating Fitch Moody's S&P
Arkansas[36] NR Aa2 AA

Arkansas currently has no statewide, official spending database online. However, the Department of Finance and Administration has created a statewide contracts procurement Web site.

Stimulus

Between February 2009 and June 2013, Arkansas received $2,097,950,000.00 in federal funding.[37]

Public Employees

See also: Arkansas public employee salaries
See also: Arkansas public pensions

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Arkansas and local governments in the state employed a total of 190,155 people.[38] Of those employees, 155,216 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $478,078,745 per month and 34,939 were part-time employees paid $24,804,627 per month.[38] More than 40% of those employees, or 32,278 employees, were in education or higher education.[38]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Arkansas Online "Beebe signs $4.7B budget into law" March 5, 2012
  2. State Budget Solution “Report reveals aggregate state debt exceeds $4 trillion” Oct. 24, 2011
  3. State Budget Solutions "State debt more than $37,000 per private worker, $13,000 per capita" Oct. 2, 2012
  4. US Census Federal Aid to State and Local Governments
  5. Tax Foundation' "Monday Map: Federal Aid to State Budgets. Accessed October 15, 2013
  6. [1]
  7. Expenditures
  8. Revenues
  9. Employee Salaries
  10. Budget
  11. State Government
  12. Agencies
  13. Arkansas Ethics
  14. Taxes
  15. Accounting Reports
  16. [2]
  17. AK FOIA
  18. Lobbying Forms
  19. Government Technology "New Arkansas Site Reveals State Salaries" July 6, 2012
  20. Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA)
  21. DFA - State Contracts
  22. Current Bid Proposals
  23. Grant Programs
  24. Agency Actual Expenditures
  25. Annual Operations Plan
  26. Funded Budget by Fund Source
  27. Payroll
  28. 28.0 28.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  29. Arkansas Business, “1945 Act keeps State's budget consistent,” January 19, 2009
  30. Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research, “Arkansas Budget & Appropriations Process 2008” (PPT)
  31. National Conference of State Legislators "Annual and Biennial Budgeting: The Experience of State Governments"
  32. National Association of State Budget Officers, “2008 Budget Processes in the States”
  33. Stateline.org "The Arkansas approach: How one state has avoided fiscal disaster" Sept. 20, 2011
  34. Arkansas Legislative Joint Audit Committee Web site, retrieved October 9, 2009
  35. Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit Web site, retrieved October 9, 2009
  36. California State Treasurer, “Comparison of Other States’ General Obligation Bond Ratings”
  37. Recovery, "Stimulus Spending by State"
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 2008 Arkansas Public Employment U.S. Census Data