Gov. Hutchinson: Running Arkansas on Obamacare | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gov. Hutchinson: Running Arkansas on Obamacare

Posted By on Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 7:42 AM

click to enlarge THANK HEAVEN FOR OBAMACARE: Without its millions,  Gov. Hutchinson faces a budget hole.
  • THANK HEAVEN FOR OBAMACARE: Without its millions, Gov. Hutchinson faces a budget hole.
Reporting today in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette illustrates again why Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants so desperately to preserve the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. It's a key component of a gubernatorial budget that would otherwise require drastic spending cuts.

Here's the account by Michael Wickline. The key points;

* The Hutchinson budget for next year depends on legislative approval of continuation of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. (Yes, Hutchinson has a gimmicky new name and some punitive measures for the working poor who benefit from the federally financed insurance program, but it's still Obamacare and the cosmetic changes are marginal in terms of budget impact.)

* Failure to continue Obamacare would create a $100 million "budget hole."

* That $100 million happens to be almost exactly the amount state revenue is expected to increase next year. No Obamacare, no revenue increase.

* Without Obamacare money, legislators are talking about  3 to 5 percent across the board in state spending. The article seems to suggest otherwise, but I don't think it would be possible to do this without some reduction in school and higher education spending, not to mention  public safety, prison and other categories. If education spending is NOT affected, you'd have to double the cost on all other agencies because about half the state budget goes to education.

* Tax cuts supported by the governor in 2015 will cost the state $101 million in revenue next year. Again, that's about what the Obamacare money brings in. Reminder: The bottom 40 percent of wage earner got NO tax cuts from the governor. Super wealthy people got an enormous windfall.

Bottom line: Obamacare money is paying to prop up Arkansas government and pay for Asa Hutchinson's tax cut for the wealthy.

Hutchinson thinks primary election outcomes favor success for his plan.

A pending question is whether the Democratic legislative minority — after being denied any meaningful reward for giving Hutchinson their necessary approval of his Obamacare plan in 2015 (they WERE allowed to have a symbolic negative vote on an income tax credit for working poor) — will work up a strategy to actually leverage  some benefits out of continuing to be Hutchinson's cannon fodder for padding a budget with money from a federal program he and other Republicans have vowed repeatedly to kill.

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