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Local senator named co-chair of joint budget

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LITTLE ROCK – Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville will be Senate co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee when the legislature convenes for the 2017 regular session in January.

It will be the third consecutive session in which Teague serves as chairman of Joint Budget. He was elected by the other senators on the committee.

Joint Budget votes on every state agency spending request before they are brought to the entire Senate and House or Representatives for final approval. The committee also votes on the Public School Fund and numerous other sources of revenue for education and higher education.

Joint Budget meets more frequently and reviews more bills than any other committee during legislative sessions. It sponsors about 300 appropriations to authorize state government spending. The state’s general revenue fund next year will be an estimated $5.3 billion.

“It is an honor to be chosen by my colleagues on the committee to serve again as their chairman, because they know all the work it entails and the importance of paying close attention to every spending request,” Teague said.

“Arkansas voters want a conservative budget. They want every tax dollar to be accounted for and to be spent effectively and efficiently. The Joint Budget Committee is where we make that happen,” Teague said.

Teague was elected during the Senate’s organizational meeting on Nov. 16 at the state Capitol. Senators chose committee assignments and adopted parliamentary rules for the 91st General Assembly, will begin Jan. 9, 2017.

Teague also will serve as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation. It considers legislation that changes the state tax code. Several legislators have said that they would file bills in 2017 to lower personal income taxes and to exempt from taxes retirement benefits paid to veterans.

Teague also will serve on the Senate Committee on Insurance and Commerce, which considers legislation affecting banks, insurance companies and utilities.

His position as chairman of Joint Budget means that he will again serve on the Legislative Council, which meets in the interim between sessions to monitor state government operations. The Council looks at major personnel changes in state agencies and reviews contracts with private vendors. It also reviews transfers of funds between divisions of state agencies, to ensure tax dollars are being spent as authorized.

Teague represents Senate District 10, which includes Howard, Montgomery, Pike and Polk Counties and parts of Clark, Hempstead, Nevada and Sevier Counties. He has been in the Senate since the 2009 legislative session. Before that he served six years in the House of Representatives.