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State Budget Surplus

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Arkansas will soon have a $600 million budget surpuls. This is not counting the additional $300 million expected to come in from the production of gas from the Fayetteville Shale. What do you think the best way for the state to use the money? I think the state should invest the money in order to get a return. This return could then be used to fund future infrastructure inprovements.

Projects I would like to see funded.

1. Arkansas Aquarium: aquariums are big tourist attractions. The Georgia Aquarium, which opened last year, is expected to draw 3 million visitors the first year. Spend $250 million of the surplus to fund the aquarium. This would produce a world class attraction for Arkansas. I would like to see it built in North Little Rock across the river from the Clinton Library.

2. Arkansas Zoo: Spend $250 million to take over and expand the Little Rock Zoo. These two projects would make Little Rock one of the top family tourist destinations in the country. Because Little Rock is in the center of the state it is accessible to the rest of the state. Unless one flies into Little Rock they have to pass through other parts of the state to reach it. As soon as these projects opened the state would see increase tax revenue to fund roads and education for the whole state.

What are you thoughts on spending the surplus?

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Arkansas will soon have a $600 million budget surpuls. This is not counting the additional $300 million expected to come in from the production of gas from the Fayetteville Shale. What do you think the best way for the state to use the money? I think the state should invest the money in order to get a return. This return could then be used to fund future infrastructure inprovements.

Projects I would like to see funded.

1. Arkansas Aquarium: aquariums are big tourist attractions. The Georgia Aquarium, which opened last year, is expected to draw 3 million visitors the first year. Spend $250 million of the surplus to fund the aquarium. This would produce a world class attraction for Arkansas. I would like to see it built in North Little Rock across the river from the Clinton Library.

2. Arkansas Zoo: Spend $250 million to take over and expand the Little Rock Zoo. These two projects would make Little Rock one of the top family tourist destinations in the country. Because Little Rock is in the center of the state it is accessible to the rest of the state. Unless one flies into Little Rock they have to pass through other parts of the state to reach it. As soon as these projects opened the state would see increase tax revenue to fund roads and education for the whole state.

What are you thoughts on spending the surplus?

While I would love to see those two things happen, I think it's fair to say they probably won't ever in our lifetimes. As a conservative (conservative doesn't equal Republican, by the way) I'd normally like to see the money go back to the people. But, in this case, I think we should invest in our schools. We are up and coming in almost any testing/study you see now days, and a large in-flux of capital could really push us out of the bottom half of the country and make us respectable from now until years to come. I would also like to see $200-300 million put in an interest-bearing account to be used at the state's discretion to lure large economic developments to the state.

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Yeah while I wouldn't mind seeing some other projects done, putting it back into the schools might be best. If it were to be spent on something like an aquarium and such I'd just like to point out that NWA didn't get one of the nature centers and the state hasn't really put any facilities of that type up here in our rapidly growing metro. :P

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Education is the key to everything, and everything must be prioritized properly. If the citizens of Arkansas were better educated as a whole, average earned income would rise, which would result in greater statewide spending potential and taxes generated. You only have to look toward Northwest Arkansas and see the benefits of having a better educated population. With a higher level of education in Arkansas, the state would also be in a position to lure more, bigger and better industries than ever. A fund to assist new industries should come in the form of a tif, as well as some reasonable tax relief. In time, the tax collections would allow the state to fund such things as a world class aquarium and other non-essential, but desired luxuries. Dont misunderstand, I support an aquarium, but prioritize it lower than education. Another area that lacks funding is state loans and grants that assist smaller communities around the state to build and maintain water, sewer and other infrastructure improvements. Several small communities struggle keep the water and sewer systems in compliance and in operation. I've heard some say the Fayetteville Shale Play will have a greater economic impact on Arkansas than anything in the history of our state. If so, some things such as an aquarium could develop much sooner. I also think it is only a matter of time before Arkansas legalizes casino gambling. That too could add significant revenue to complicate the spending dilema. In any case, the money should be invested until such time that a spending plan is decided and implemented.

Incidently, although I'm in Little Rock, I'd support a Nature Center in the Fayetteville area, and don't understand why one wasnt planned there to begin with.

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Incidently, although I'm in Little Rock, I'd support a Nature Center in the Fayetteville area, and don't understand why one wasnt planned there to begin with.

Thanks, just had to throw that in there. :D The only thing I can think of is the fact that some people think NWA is sucking all the state money away on road construction. Although I know people up here would argue with that idea.

Education is the key to everything, and everything must be prioritized properly. If the citizens of Arkansas were better educated as a whole, average earned income would rise, which would result in greater statewide spending potential and taxes generated. You only have to look toward Northwest Arkansas and see the benefits of having a better educated population. With a higher level of education in Arkansas, the state would also be in a position to lure more, bigger and better industries than ever. A fund to assist new industries should come in the form of a tif, as well as some reasonable tax relief. In time, the tax collections would allow the state to fund such things as a world class aquarium and other non-essential, but desired luxuries. Dont misunderstand, I support an aquarium, but prioritize it lower than education. Another area that lacks funding is state loans and grants that assist smaller communities around the state to build and maintain water, sewer and other infrastructure improvements. Several small communities struggle keep the water and sewer systems in compliance and in operation. I've heard some say the Fayetteville Shale Play will have a greater economic impact on Arkansas than anything in the history of our state. If so, some things such as an aquarium could develop much sooner. I also think it is only a matter of time before Arkansas legalizes casino gambling. That too could add significant revenue to complicate the spending dilema. In any case, the money should be invested until such time that a spending plan is decided and implemented.

I do have to agree with you. Although it would be fun to use it on something else I just think the state would probably be better off in the long run if it was spent on education.

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While I would love to see those two things happen, I think it's fair to say they probably won't ever in our lifetimes. As a conservative (conservative doesn't equal Republican, by the way) I'd normally like to see the money go back to the people. But, in this case, I think we should invest in our schools. We are up and coming in almost any testing/study you see now days, and a large in-flux of capital could really push us out of the bottom half of the country and make us respectable from now until years to come. I would also like to see $200-300 million put in an interest-bearing account to be used at the state's discretion to lure large economic developments to the state.

I don't think more money sould go to education at this time because as of October 2005 there was an $1.1 billion in unspent reserves with the local school districts. "Our experience in Arkansas and nationwide suggests that giving more money to schools is not sufficient to produce improvement. We also have to give schools and educators stronger motivation to use the money effectively." by Jay P. Greene head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Do you want to give schools disrticts more money to spend on sports in the state? Increase spending on education does not improve education. Most of the money spent on education in the state goes to increase the number of people employed by the local school districts. Arkansas has not increased science scores in ten years and this week received a F in the teaching of history. If money is to be spent on education then expand programs like the Math and Science School in Hot Springs.

If the state developed attractions (aquarium and zoo) that would draw 2.5 million visitors the result would be an additional $30 + million in tax revenue. In 15 years these two projects would have paid for themselves. If you spend money to lure business to the state who is to say they will still be here in 15 years?

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I don't think more money sould go to education at this time because as of October 2005 there was an $1.1 billion in unspent reserves with the local school districts. "Our experience in Arkansas and nationwide suggests that giving more money to schools is not sufficient to produce improvement. We also have to give schools and educators stronger motivation to use the money effectively." by Jay P. Greene head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Do you want to give schools disrticts more money to spend on sports in the state? Increase spending on education does not improve education. Most of the money spent on education in the state goes to increase the number of people employed by the local school districts. Arkansas has not increased science scores in ten years and this week received a F in the teaching of history. If money is to be spent on education then expand programs like the Math and Science School in Hot Springs.

If the state developed attractions (aquarium and zoo) that would draw 2.5 million visitors the result would be an additional $30 + million in tax revenue. In 15 years these two projects would have paid for themselves. If you spend money to lure business to the state who is to say they will still be here in 15 years?

You're exactly right about the school funding. Throwing more money at them is not the answer. In Little Rock the number one problem in schools is discipline. Too many classrooms aren't conducive to learning, and money won't fix that. Its ridiculous that middle schools need security officers to manage the students.

I'd like to see an aquarium too, but first I'd sooner spend the money to fund the Little Rock Zoo's master plan. We could really make that a major attraction.

Having said that, I think the right thing to do is return the money to the taxpayers. That would really help to give our state a business-friendly image, as well as help the economy.

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Maybe some of the money could be spent on the jail system. Little Rock just picked up its 33rd murder and theyve had 4 in a 24 hour period. 24 of the 33 victims had arrest records as did 19 of the 23 suspects. Some of these people should not have been on the streets and the lack of space in the jails is to blame.

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Being an outsider Arkansas is lucky to have a surplus! As a conservative myself I echo some of the beliefs here, the people are smarter at spending or investing their money then the government is, schools are great but a lot of the $$ goes to fields, incompetent teachers and deadwood staffs, not in educating children. I say that any tax surplus should be given back to the people.

If you gave a clerk a $100 bill for a $20 item, you would expect your change back not to have the clerk "invest it for you" or "make the store better for you". If government costs x then you shouldn't be expected to pay x + 600 million for it just like you shouldn't leave the store without $80 in change.

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If it wasn't spent on schools then I know of plenty of road projects that need done. :D

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I like the zoo/aquarium idea.

With all due respect to those backing spending the money on schools, per capita spending doesn't correlate well with the quality of a school district's education. If it did I'd be advocating big property tax increase everywhere.

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Personally I think using the state surplus on education is a good idea. However, I don't think it needs to be spent on elementary, middle or high school...it needs to be spent at the Colleges and Universities which actually prepare people for the real world. Arkansas has one of the lowest rates of the adult population with a 4 year degree, and I don't think it because of our school systems. The #1 reason that people do NOT get a higher education is because of cost. I think its crazy the type of money I had to pay to get my education (I just graduated from the UofA in Fay. after going to school for only 4 years), and if anything I think the state needs to get the money to students to get that education.

For example per credit hour at the states largest and flagship university it cost, $145.38 per credit hour and then on top of that it it cost $37.77 per credit hour for fees, which brings your total to $183.15 per credit hour. Now most degrees at the UofA are 126 credit hours long, so when you multiply $183.15 by 126 you get a nice total of $23,076.90....thats a lot of money for a lot of people in this state (and that total does not include your yearly increase of nearly 5%, and it does not include room and board). Also, the costs of attending state universities has dramatically increase over the past few years, because the state spent less money on higher education during the budget shortfalls. Here is the UofA website where I gathered this information http://admissions.uark.edu/app/est_costs.shtml

States such as Georgia give EVERY high school student who wants to attend a state school $3000 a year to help earn their degree, in Louisiana tutition for in state students is close to nothing, because of the state lottery which goes all toward education. If you really want to get higher paying jobs and more educated workforce, you can't use those stupid yearly test as benchmarks, you need to make sure that more people in your state have the opportunity to better themselves and the chance to get the education that so many of them want, but can't afford. I also think the surplus should be spent on major road projects in NWA and in Central Arkansas, but I think that the higher education part is the most important.

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Personally I think using the state surplus on education is a good idea. However, I don't think it needs to be spent on elementary, middle or high school...it needs to be spent at the Colleges and Universities which actually prepare people for the real world. Arkansas has one of the lowest rates of the adult population with a 4 year degree, and I don't think it because of our school systems. The #1 reason that people do NOT get a higher education is because of cost. I think its crazy the type of money I had to pay to get my education (I just graduated from the UofA in Fay. after going to school for only 4 years), and if anything I think the state needs to get the money to students to get that education.

For example per credit hour at the states largest and flagship university it cost, $145.38 per credit hour and then on top of that it it cost $37.77 per credit hour for fees, which brings your total to $183.15 per credit hour. Now most degrees at the UofA are 126 credit hours long, so when you multiply $183.15 by 126 you get a nice total of $23,076.90....thats a lot of money for a lot of people in this state (and that total does not include your yearly increase of nearly 5%, and it does not include room and board). Also, the costs of attending state universities has dramatically increase over the past few years, because the state spent less money on higher education during the budget shortfalls. Here is the UofA website where I gathered this information http://admissions.uark.edu/app/est_costs.shtml

States such as Georgia give EVERY high school student who wants to attend a state school $3000 a year to help earn their degree, in Louisiana tutition for in state students is close to nothing, because of the state lottery which goes all toward education. If you really want to get higher paying jobs and more educated workforce, you can't use those stupid yearly test as benchmarks, you need to make sure that more people in your state have the opportunity to better themselves and the chance to get the education that so many of them want, but can't afford. I also think the surplus should be spent on major road projects in NWA and in Central Arkansas, but I think that the higher education part is the most important.

Good points. I think I actually agree with this.

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If it wasn't spent on schools then I know of plenty of road projects that need done. :D

Yeah, too bad AHTD won't see a dime of that money.

Not being an expert about education, I'd make my naive vote for spending more on education. I still remember my Arkansas public education, and as I recall there were definitely substantive things that could've been improved upon.

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Personally I think using the state surplus on education is a good idea. However, I don't think it needs to be spent on elementary, middle or high school...it needs to be spent at the Colleges and Universities which actually prepare people for the real world. Arkansas has one of the lowest rates of the adult population with a 4 year degree, and I don't think it because of our school systems. The #1 reason that people do NOT get a higher education is because of cost. I think its crazy the type of money I had to pay to get my education (I just graduated from the UofA in Fay. after going to school for only 4 years), and if anything I think the state needs to get the money to students to get that education.

For example per credit hour at the states largest and flagship university it cost, $145.38 per credit hour and then on top of that it it cost $37.77 per credit hour for fees, which brings your total to $183.15 per credit hour. Now most degrees at the UofA are 126 credit hours long, so when you multiply $183.15 by 126 you get a nice total of $23,076.90....thats a lot of money for a lot of people in this state (and that total does not include your yearly increase of nearly 5%, and it does not include room and board). Also, the costs of attending state universities has dramatically increase over the past few years, because the state spent less money on higher education during the budget shortfalls. Here is the UofA website where I gathered this information http://admissions.uark.edu/app/est_costs.shtml

States such as Georgia give EVERY high school student who wants to attend a state school $3000 a year to help earn their degree, in Louisiana tutition for in state students is close to nothing, because of the state lottery which goes all toward education. If you really want to get higher paying jobs and more educated workforce, you can't use those stupid yearly test as benchmarks, you need to make sure that more people in your state have the opportunity to better themselves and the chance to get the education that so many of them want, but can't afford. I also think the surplus should be spent on major road projects in NWA and in Central Arkansas, but I think that the higher education part is the most important.

Good idea about college eduction but not with the surplus money. In 2003 there were 124,000 students in Arkansas colleges and universities. If you gave 100,000 of them $3,000, like Georgia, you would have

spent the surplus in two years. This does not take in an increase in students who would want to take advantage of the program. If another 20,000 students wanted to go to college then the state would be forced to come up additional money to fund the expansion of buildings and hiring of staff to cover the increase. This type of program could only work with a steady flow of funds, like a lottery.

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The latest figures show the state will have a surplus of $700 million by next year.

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I think stuff like this will fuel talk of changing the tax system here in Arkansas even more. Especially the food tax.

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I think stuff like this will fuel talk of changing the tax system here in Arkansas even more. Especially the food tax.

I'd like to see the food tax go.

I somehow have very little confidence the surplus will be used wisely and it will be squandered.

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I'd like to see the food tax go.

I somehow have very little confidence the surplus will be used wisely and it will be squandered.

Arkansas doesn't want to become just any other state so the food tax will probably remain alongside state income tax and the annual personal property tax.

The surplus will no doubt be spent on something that will require even more taxes to upkeep.

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Arkansas doesn't want to become just any other state so the food tax will probably remain alongside state income tax and the annual personal property tax.

The surplus will no doubt be spent on something that will require even more taxes to upkeep.

I have to agree with you on this one.

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It's our money. We overpaid. Give it back! :thumbsup:

This is America... taxes are non-refundable! :thumbsup:

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Roads! We have some big needs up here in NWA. :D Maybe we can get one of those Nature Centers too while we're at it. :lol:

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As a conservative (conservative doesn't equal Republican, by the way) I'd normally like to see the money go back to the people. But, in this case, I think we should invest in our schools.

As a liberal, I think the money should be given back. I'm all for more money for education, and the other items mentioned here, but the people should be given the chance to vote on these things. Plus, the people are probably more likely to fund such improvements if they know the government isn't going to squander away the excesses, as many of you seem to think it will.

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When I go to Wal-Mart and hand them a $100 bill for $58.63 worth of items from my cart, I expect the Wal-Mart employee to give me $41.37 before I walk out the door.

It would quit shopping there if the cashier took the change to the main office and asked, "How should we spend this money to provide a better shopping experience for our customers?"

Give it back to the people! If you want to invest in tourist attractions and the like, appropriate the funds, hold a vote, or whatever. Bottom line, it's not the state's money to spend.

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