Lawmakers unable to agree on Arkansas Game and Fish Commission budget after discovering $40K salary raise for director

Lawmakers unable to agree on Arkansas Game and Fish Commission budget after discovering $40K salary raise for director

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Lawmakers are at odds over the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission budget for the next fiscal year, leaving their appropriations up in the air as this fiscal session wraps up.

Thursday on the House floor, House members were faced with the AGFC budget for the next year after the Senate had already passed it.

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State Rep. Jeremy Wooldridge (R-Marmaduke), who was one of the ones voting against it, told KARK 4 News they discovered it included a $40,000 raise for the AGFC director and took a step back.

Ultimately, members of the House did not pass the budget which Wooldridge said, for him, is a result of his concern over the process and salary increase the budget included that he said seemed to fly under the radar until now.

With the raise, the AGFC director would be making 190,000 a year, more than other state officials of the same authority and even some department secretaries appointed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“This is the legislature’s way of showing Game and Fish or any state agency that they are accountable to the people,” Wooldridge said. “So, while they get their funding outside of general revenue through a special sales tax, we have to appropriate that funding so this to me creates an avenue or pathway to where we can have conversations.”

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KARK 4 News reached out to AGFC for an interview and received a statement in response.

“AGFC is committed to working with the General Assembly to pass the spending authority needed to continue to conserve Arkansas’s rich natural resources and provide the outdoor recreation opportunities Arkansans deserve and expect,” the statement read.

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Lawmakers are expected to wrap up the fiscal session officially within the next week and said it’s unlikely they’ll be able to pass a budget for the AGFC by then, something they’d likely need to pick up in a special session before July 1 as AGFC’s current budget goes to then.

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