John Lyon ARKANSAS NEWS BUREAU
LITTLE ROCK —Lawmakers are expected to give final legislative approval Monday to a nearly $5.5 billion state budget before bringing to a close the regular business of the session and going home.
The House and Senate also could give their final yea or nay to bills on topics such as taxes and medical marijuana before gaveling out Monday.
Legislators will return to the Capitol for formal adjournment of the session no later then May 5, with the interval giving them time to correct mistakes in bills and try to override any gubernatorial vetoes.
On Friday, the House and Senate approved matching versions of the Revenue Stabilization Act, the bill the Legislature and governor must approve each year to set the budget and spending priorities for the next fiscal year. On Monday the chambers are expected to give approval to each other’s bills and send the legislation to the governor.
The budget, which proposes to increase spending by $163 million from the previous year, is coming up for approval slightly ahead of the release of the monthly revenue report for March. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state’s fiscal office say the report will show a dip in revenues.
In the Senate on Friday, Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, questioned the wisdom of deciding on a budget now. He noted that the governor has said he plans to call a special session on Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion program, probably in May.
“I think there’s a value in waiting,” he said. “If we wait till the special session and we put the vote on this budget bill off for a couple months, we can get at least two, maybe three more revenue reports and we can make a better informed decision,” he said.