Gov. Hutchinson to seek quick approval of transformation plan in first weeks of session

Governor requests $5.75 billion budget

By Wesley Brown
Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday (Jan. 10) he will kick-off the 2019 legislative session next week by asking state lawmakers to quickly approve his government transformation plan, one of the four cornerstone agenda items that are part of his $5.75 billion budget request for the 92nd General Assembly.

In a one-on-one interview with Talk Business & Politics at his State Capitol office, Hutchinson said he wants to start with a gaggle of key bills to streamline state government to set the tone for the rest of the session that begins on Monday, Jan. 14. He said the threshold necessary for several bills that will funnel through the House and Senate to downsize 42 commissions, boards and agencies into 15 cabinet-level departments will be a challenging task.

“I do want to start with the transformation because it makes sense that comes out-of-the-chute early because when you think about it, every bill that passes after transformation may have to have different terminology,” said the popular Republican governor. “So, we want to lead with that (because) it’s going to take a two-thirds vote and it’s going to take a three-fourths vote for our tax cuts, so we’ve got work to do.”

Concerning the transformation plan, State Rep. Andy Davis, R-Little Rock, and Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, have already filed several bills outlining the governor’s intentions first announced in October. For example, HB 1070 was filed in late December as the overarching measure that establishes the new cabinet-level departments and transfers various state government entities to new silos.

HB 1071 outlines the specific duties for the newly created Secretary of Veteran Affairs. HB 1072 outlines the responsibilities of the Secretary of Health under the reorganized plan. The new law reorganizing state government, if approved, would go into effect on July 1, 2019. READ MORE.

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