Friday, April 8, 2016

Arkansas Works Passes Both Houses of Legislature; Benton County Delegation Split in Support of Measure to Expand Medicaid

Members of the Arkansas General Assembly meeting in special session voted separately Thursday to approve House Bill 1001and Senate Bill 1, identical measures popularly known as “Arkansas Works”, which is Governor Hutchinson’s plan for Medicaid expansion in Arkansas.  The House voted 70-30 in favor of the measure.  Benton County Representatives Jana Della Rosa (Rogers), Dan Douglas (Bentonville), and Sue Scott (Rogers) voted in favor of passage.

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Senator Jim Hendren presenting SB1 to the Arkansas Senate

Representatives Robin Lundstrum (Springdale), Jim Dotson (Bentonville), Grant Hodges (Rogers), and Rebecca Petty (Rogers) all voted against the Governor’s plan.  Senator Cecile Bledsoe (Rogers), and Senator Bart Hester (Cave Springs) also voted against Senate Bill 1 which was sponsored by their fellow Benton County Senator, Jim Hendren (Sulphur Springs).

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The Arkansas Senate Chamber “Tote Board” indicating how Senators voted on SB1

A simple majority is all that was required to pass the measure in both houses, but a ¾ majority will be required to pass the appropriation for funding the program. That appropriation will be debated in the regular fiscal session which begins next week in Little Rock.  Failure to fund the measure will have a serious impact on the Arkansas state budget. All of the legislators were presented with numbers projecting a possible budget shortfall of at least $150 million dollars should the program go unfunded. Legislators were also informed that number will grow exponentially in the coming years without the proper funding of Arkansas Works included in the budget going forward.

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