• Support for Marijuana Legalization Declining in Arkansas

    A new poll by Talk Business shows that support for medical marijuana legalization in Arkansas is declining. An August 2015 Talk Business Poll showed support for medical marijuana prescribed by physicians at 84 percent, but as voters understand more about the issue it has lost a significant amount of support.

    “Talk Business released the poll late yesterday afternoon that showed 58% of voters could potentially support the measure, but that’s a 26% reduction of the support they enjoyed this time last year. I think parents, businesses, and community leaders are really starting to take a look at the negative impact legalizing medical marijuana will have,” said Kevin Russell, Chairman of The Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities. “These measures will not only have an effect on our workforce, the safety measures concerning children and marijuana use is a huge concern as there are too many unanswered questions.”

    There are currently two competing ballot measures. One would allow the sale of medical marijuana through regulated dispensaries. The other would allow residents living over 20 miles away from a dispensary to grow up to 10 marijuana plants at their home.

    “Previous polling has shown the ‘grow your own’ aspect of this initiative struggles to find support. This is where things get dangerous. Without FDA approval, allowing folks to grow marijuana plants in their home without proper safety precautions is a disaster waiting to happen and will make it incredibly difficult for authorities to regulate,” said Russell.

    The Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities is dedicated to fighting any initiatives to legalize marijuana as the facts overwhelmingly show that states that legalized marijuana lead non-legalized states in teen marijuana use, meaning less educational achievement, lower IQ, more school dropouts, traffic fatalities, and eventual unemployment.

    “We are making a lot of progress in our efforts to educate the public,” said Russell. “We still have more work to do.”

    For more information on the effects of marijuana, how to volunteer, and where you can donate, visit KeepArkansasSafe.com.

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  • Arkansas Ends Fiscal Year with $177.4 Million Surplus

    The state of Arkansas has ended the fiscal year with $177.4 million left in the bank. The amount left after all of the expenses are paid is referred to as the surplus.

    The legislature will determine how that money is spent in the 2017 Regular Session.

    We are now three months away from beginning the state budget process for the next year. So now is the time to be reviewing how our state performed over the past 12 months.
    In Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015- June 30,2016) gross collections which included all state taxes and fees totaled $6.4 billion. This is a decrease of $19.2 million from the year before, but $42.6 million more than what was predicted.

    However, the net available revenue for the previous year was up. The net available revenue is what is available to the state budget after individual and corporate refunds and funds for our constitutional offices are disbursed.

    The net available revenue totaled $5.3 billion. This is 2.2% more than the year before.

    The fiscal year ended above forecast as a result of improving growth in individual income tax collections. The net gain was 4.4 percent over year ago and 3.0 percent or $82 million above forecast. Corporate Income tax collections after refunds also added to results above forecast. Among smaller collections categories, tobacco taxes were above year ago collections and above forecast. Revenue from Games of Skill was also up 18 percent over prior year.

    The state budget process is central to the administration of state government. As well as allocating resources, budgets set policy, and lay the foundation for future planning and program review. However, state fiscal conditions change throughout the fiscal year. Tracking these conditions is crucial in addressing fiscal challenges that arise.
    While we are always relieved to see that our economy is growing and there is money left over from the previous year, we are cautious approaching every new budget to ensure we can provide our you with the services you pay for such as quality education, resources for our foster children, care for our elderly and so much more.

    To read this year’s entire revenue report, visit arkansashouse.org.