The state's budget deficit for fiscal year 2018, which begins next July, is up to 1.5 billion dollars. Most of the shortfall is due to the loss of temporary taxes. Rising costs and inflationary expenses also make up the budget gap. But Jonesboro Senator Jim Fannin questions why inflation is included in the fiscal cliff deficit.
"It would be a lot better to have real numbers rather then these inflated projected numbers that just scares everybody," Fannin said.
Fannin made his comments during Friday's joint legislative budget committee. Barry Dusse, with the governor's budget office, responded that inflationary dollars are added to the budget deficit projection, because state law requires them to do so.
"This is strictly arithmetic and to give everybody a tool of what future years would look like," Dusse said.
The previous budget deficit estimate was 1.2 billion dollars. Fannin questions why the deficit has been increased to 1.5 billion dollars, when legislators do not have to fund inflationary costs.
"Everytime I turn the TV on there's no inflation in the country, but we are going to bill this in. It's not something we have to fund next year if we don't want to, we didn't fund it this year."
An agreement between the governor and legislators on how to close the budget gap has yet to be reached and it will likely take a special session to do so.