TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Arkansas lawmakers are heading into a special session on Thursday in Little Rock. Governor Asa Hutchinson called the meeting to address a large budget shortfall the state is facing because of COVID-19.
The state is projected to face about a $350 million shortfall. “Looks like between now and June 30, which is the end of our fiscal year, the state will lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million in sales tax revenue,” said Rep. Carol Dalby, a republican representing Texarkana.
Gov. Hutchinson also just extended the state’s individual income tax filing deadline to July 15th. “There is a gap between April 15 and July 15 in which there will not be income tax payments being made into the state,” Dalby said. She said residents should expect across the board budget cuts.
Lawmakers will decide whether to move money from the state’s rainy day fund over to a COVID -19 fund. Requests to use that money would have to be approved by a six member committee of lawmakers. Officials also plan to consider allowing some members to vote by proxy for the upcoming fiscal session which is scheduled for next month.
During the special session, lawmakers will be practicing social distancing and will not meet as they normally do, in the capitol building. Instead they will be meeting at a larger location.
While the virus remains a threat, Dalby encourages everyone to be cautious, and support their local businesses. “Don’t go to the store if you don’t have to go … help our businesses in Texarkana to survive this storm” she said.