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Arkansas Governor Turns Down $146 Million In Federal Funds

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ARKANSAS TURNS DOWN FEDERAL FUNDS— Arkansas is turning down most of the $146 million in federal pandemic rental assistance the state was set to receive. During his last press conference, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson told reporters about a letter he was going to send to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explaining why.

 “We cannot accept $146 million of additional money and expect to get that out and to utilize that effectively in the state,” Hutchinson said. “I am proposing in that letter as you’ll see, an alternative to the Secretary of the Treasury that we utilize 39% of those funds in housing stability efforts.”

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Courtesy: Arkansas Governor's Office
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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) explains to reporters the basic contents of a letter he will send to Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen regarding federal funding for emergency rent assistance.

That would amount to a little under $60 million dollars for Community Services Block Grant Programs and community action agencies. Hutchinson said Arkansas has $6-point-7 million dollars left in the current Emergency Recovery Act rental assistance funds along with pre-pandemic assistance programs already in place. He also cited the state's low unemployment rate and recovering economic climate that is helping people get back to work. Hutchinson's move follows a similar decision by Nebraska to decline the latest round of rental assistance.

And according to Arkansas finance officials, the state's surplus is expected to hit $1 billion by the end of the fiscal year. And with this good report, Hutchinson said he's considering calling a special session of the Arkansas Legislature later this year to take up tax relief and other proposals to tap into the state's growing surplus.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.