Arkansans are spending more than they were last year, and that could mean enough extra tax revenue to fund fantastic programs for kids. For four months straight, sales and use taxes have had annual growth of four percent or more. Because of that growth, there was nearly $4 million more than expected in sales tax collections last month. At the end of the fiscal year, legislators can spend extra money like this on programs that got left out of the original budget.
Last month’s revenue from all state taxes (not just sales tax) exceeded expectations by $6.8 million. That amount alone is more than enough to fund the Positive Youth Development Act (Act 166), which would provide new after-school and summer programs in the areas where they are needed the most. This act would also help expand existing programs like the 4-H clubs, boys and girls clubs, mentoring, and other community-based programs. Extra funding would mean that more kids could have access to high-quality STEM, arts and other youth leadership activities. Act 166 needs only $5 million in funding to work. Surplus revenues can also go towards other kid friendly programs like pre-K.