Arkansas Legislature gives final OK to budget bill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Legislature has wrapped up this year's session after giving final approval to a $5 billion budget for the coming year.

The House and Senate on Wednesday passed identical versions of the budget bill, formally known as the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, before recessing the fiscal session that began Feb. 10. Lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol on March 19 to formally adjourn the session.

This was the third fiscal session since a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 required the Legislature to meet and budget annually.

The session focused primarily on the state's compromise Medicaid expansion. The "private option" plan to use federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the poor was reauthorized last week, surviving an attempt to defund the program.

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