LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Just days after the midterm election, Governor Asa Hutchinson is looking to the future – presenting his final budget proposal to the Joint Budget Committee.

The governor revealed the state will be heading into the next fiscal year with over $2.7 billion in reserve funding, which he says puts us in the strongest financial position in state history.

He highlighted some areas where he’d like to see an increase in funding, including education and public safety. 

In his presentation, Governor Hutchinson asked that an extra $13.3 million go to DHS’ Division of Children and Family Services to assist in the state’s foster care program and proposed a $1.5 million increase to the State Police budget for each of the next two fiscal years.

But perhaps the largest bump in the bank would go to education, with a $550 million increase in funding over the next two years: the largest increase in education spending in well over a decade.

Hutchinson said he hopes this will assist lawmakers in establishing a competitive base teacher salary. 

Additional budgetary increases are proposed for the Department of Corrections, community corrections, higher education, and the Department of the Military.

As this is just the governor’s proposal, it will ultimately be up to lawmakers to solidify what exactly is done with the state’s money.

In addition to sharing his balanced budget, this appearance was also emotional for the soon-to-be former governor.

In one of his final addresses to lawmakers, Hutchinson said it was the highest honor of his public life to serve in the state’s highest office and claimed Arkansas’ leaders over the past 8 years have made him a better governor.