Ark. lawmakers to begin budget hearings

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe's administration is detailing his proposed balanced budget for the coming year as lawmakers kick off hearings ahead of next month's legislative session.

Department of Finance and Administration officials were scheduled Tuesday to present Beebe's proposal to members of the Joint Budget Committee. The panel is starting budget hearings ahead of the fiscal session, which begins Feb. 10.

Beebe has offered few details about his plan for the budget year that begins July 1. He's said he'll call for increased funding for prisons and higher education.

Much of the session is expected to focus on the renewed fight over the "private option" plan to expand health care to low-income residents using federal Medicaid funds. The plan was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid enrollment.

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