Budget Surpluses in Arkansas: How do they get there and where do they go?

The state budget, or what the state chooses to spend money on, is essentially a list of priorities. As with any state budget, the financial demands on the Arkansas budget far exceed our state’s ability to meet all needs. There is never enough state revenue to provide funding for all programs. Overly conservative state budgeting practices and budget surpluses can sometimes exacerbate this problem by unnecessarily restricting funding for critical programs that serve children and families. Some programs, like quality pre-K for example, have not received a dime of new funding in recent years while the state has large surpluses. Conservative budget estimates and larger surpluses generally allow Arkansas to avoid mid-year budget cuts, but they ultimately take away from the pool of money that could potentially go toward these projects from the outset.