Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced during his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday the state will end its fiscal year $360 million ahead of its revised financial forecast.
“We have gained in terms of our economy in Arkansas did not take the dip we expected it to,” he said.
As a result, the Revenue Stabilization Act will be filled. The Public School Fund will have $121 million restored. The Institutions of Higher Education will have $42.4 million restored and be fully funded for the fiscal year.
The revenue forecast has been revised to $5.624 billion, meaning in the state will be able to restore $72.2 million to the Medicaid Trust Fund, which had been reduced due to needs and costs. This restoration will bring the balance back to where it was.
As the state moves into the new fiscal year, it will carry a balance of $255 million in unallocated reserves which will stay in place until it is allocated by the Arkansas General Assembly.
Now that Hutchinson has a better handle on the state’s financial picture, he has approved a 2.2-percent merit pay increase for state employees.
New cases of COVID-19 increased by 520 for a total of 20,777 with 5,976 active cases and 14,531 recovered. Hospitalizations decreased by 10 to 290 with 67 on ventilators. Deaths increased by five to 270.
The counties with the most new cases are Washington with 152, Pulaski with 118, Benton with 33 and Faulkner with 21.
Daily testing was 4,048, bringing June’s total to 171,944 with one more day to be added to the month’s total.
Saline County has had 275 cases of COVID-19 with 67 active, 206 recovered and two deaths.
Across the country, there have been 2,612,259 cases with 705,203 recoveries and 126,512 deaths.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said a second Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team has made its way to the state. This team will study how transmission of the virus occurs in nursing homes.
Smith reminded those planning to attend large venue events during the holiday weekend to follow the guidelines by social distancing and wearing a face covering.
He also wanted to remind people that when they wear a mask, both the nose and mouth must be covered for it to do any good.
“It is important that the mask cover the nose to catch droplets,” he said.
More information about today’s briefing will be in Wednesday’s edition of The Saline Courier.