LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas' governor on Tuesday said the state will end the fiscal year with $360 million more than expected, allowing it to avoid budget cuts planned for public schools and higher education because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is revising its forecast for the fiscal year that ends Tuesday to $5.6 billion. The move means the state can restore $121 million in expected cuts to the public school fund and another $42.4 million to higher education, Hutchinson said.
The move also means that the state will be able to restore $72.2 million to the Medicaid Trust Fund, which had been reduced throughout the year.
Hutchinson in March announced the state faced a $353 million shortfall because of the pandemic. The state has had at least 20,777 confirmed cases of the virus and 270 people have died since the pandemic began in March.
The revision leaves the state with a projected $255 million in unallocated reserve and a balance of $152 million in its long-term reserve. Hutchinson also authorized a 2.2% merit pay increase for state employees.