Finance office: Arkansas budget surplus nearing $1 billion

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas has accumulated a nearly $1 billion budget surplus for the fiscal year more quickly than expected, state finance officials said Tuesday.

The Department of Finance and Administration said the state’s net available revenue for the fiscal year, which began July 1, totals $6.1 billion. That’s $987.9 million more than forecast and $736 million higher than at the same point last year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month said he was considering calling a special session to look at uses for the surplus after finance officials said they expected it to hit $1 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

Those possible uses include expanding broadband access in the state, additional school facility funding needs because of inflation and further tax relief.

Hutchinson said Tuesday that there was a need for caution about options for the state’s surplus, but said the latest report increases the possibility of a special session. The Republican governor said he didn’t anticipate calling one before June 30.

“The taxpayers need and deserve at least a portion of the surplus to be returned to them because the state should not be generating this large of a surplus,” he said in a statement.

The department said the state’s net available revenue in April totaled $1.1 billion, which was $345.7 million above the same month last year and nearly $532 million above forecast. The state’s individual and corporate income tax collections were above the same month last year and above forecast.

Sales tax collections in April were below the same month last year but above forecast.