Joint Budget Committee Begins Hearings
In the Joint Budget Committee hearings that began January 17, we noticed that state agency heads do not talk about how much money their agencies actually spent last year (or any other year). They instead are talking about their appropriations.”
An agency’s appropriation is the maximum lawful amount the agency may spend. While the actual amount spent can be less than the appropriation, no agency may spend more than what is appropriated.
The current Joint Budget Committee hearings are a first step in the legislative process that results in one year’s worth of taxpayer money to operate the state of Arkansas and its agencies. The 56-member JBC is co-chaired by Rep. Kathy Webb (D, Little Rock) and Senator Gilbert Baker (R, Conway) and has 28 Representatives and 28 Senators. We are thankful that Arkansas is required by law to operate within a balanced budget (appropriations must equal revenue).
At the current hearings, leaders of the “Top Six” state agencies – Department of Higher Education, Department of Education (K-12), Department of Corrections, Department of Community Correction, the Health Department, and Human Services – outline their needs and priorities. The JBC will also hear Governor Mike Beebe’s specific appropriation recommendations during its average-25-day run, at the end of which the JBC negotiates to put together this fiscal year’s appropriation bills.