We noted earlier today that despite Gov. Asa Hutchinson‘s promises to halt the practice of legislative pork spending of surplus funds via the General Improvement Fund, the budget includes $20 million in GIF giveaways to legislators, a good portion of which will inevitably go to pet interests in their districts. We asked Hutchinson for comment on the flip, and his spokesperson J.R. Davis passed along the following statement:
I worked with legislative leaders as they discussed and drafted the final budget amendments. I believe that the surplus should be used for statewide programs and projects and am pleased that funds were set aside for a statewide computer science initiative, economic development, and Pre-K. As with any process, there is compromise as members work toward building a consensus, and I am pleased that the amount of discretionary general improvement proposed for this biennium would be the lowest amount to be allocated in the last decade.
I appreciate the leadership and guidance by Speaker Gillam and President Dismang during this process.