While the governor applauded the council’s efforts to offer teachers a bonus, Hutchinson said the action to cut the funding was not under their purview.
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state’s Legislative Council does not have “statutory authority” to rescind $500 million in funding for the Department of Health. Arkansas Education.
It’s the latest push by lawmakers to address a growing movement in the state calling for a pay raise for teachers.
On Thursday, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a motion that rescinded the Education Department’s authority to use funds from the U.S. Schools Bailout Emergency Relief Fund.
The board recommended using the funds to give teachers bonuses of $5,000 and staff bonuses of $2,500.
Hutchinson said that while he’s “gratified” the board is supporting teacher compensation, “their action to rescind $500 million in spending authority for the Arkansas Department of Education is contrary to the statutory authority of the Board and contrary to the separation of powers principles underlying the Arkansas Income Stabilization Act.”
“Just as the General Assembly was unable to recall a bill from my office that had already been signed into law,” Hutchinson continued, “ALC cannot undo statutory appropriations under Bill 199 by parliamentary maneuver. “
Hutchinson said under the appropriation voted on earlier this year, schools could use that funding for incentives and bonuses. But now schools will have to submit plans “which must return to the legislature for further consideration”.
“In other words, the priorities of the local school district may not be approved. I’m concerned that teachers in some districts will receive a bonus, but others will not. The committee’s creative approach today, although well-intentioned, is not the best approach to help our teachers,” he said.
Compared to other states, Arkansas ranks near the bottom for minimum teacher salaries despite salary increases in recent years.