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Arkansas lawmakers back rainy day fund plan for State Fair

December 20, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Persistent rain put a damper on the Arkansas State Fair this year, and state lawmakers want to pull nearly $1 million from the rainy day fund to help offset the event’s weather-related losses.

A legislative panel on Wednesday backed Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s request to transfer about $910,000 in rainy day funds to the state Department of Agriculture for a grant to the State Fair, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Subcommittee recommended that the Legislative Council approve the plan during its meeting Friday.

The 10-day fair in October lost about $600,000 because of low turnout on six days it rained, said Doug White, interim director of the fair’s nonprofit, the Arkansas Livestock Show Association.

“Two of our weekend days were completely washed, and that really hurts,” White said.

He noted that the association has already cut five full-time employees.

Duncan Baird, the state’s budget administrator, told lawmakers this week that a review of the fair organization’s finances revealed that “their expenditures exceeded their revenues over the last few months.” Baird said the association has addressed the issue by making personnel reductions and adjusting contacts.

“But there are still those expenses that have come in in the last few months that need to be paid,” Baird said. “Essentially they have these dollars that are owed, so this rainy-day release would fund that.”

The association would have to certify all uses of the rainy day money with the finance department, he said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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