(LITTLE ROCK) Before the final day of the 2019 Arkansas State Legislative session began, Governor Asa Hutchinson said he wanted to reorganize government to reduce the number of state agencies reporting directly to him from 42 to 15. The plan was in House Bill 1763 by Rep. Andy Davis, R-Little Rock.
Final action came on Wednesday, April 10th, when, after concurring with a Senate amendment to HB1763, the House voted 96-0 to send the bill to the governor.
Hutchinson’s reorganization plan represents the most sweeping overhaul of state government since 1971, when Gov. Dale Bumpers, a Democrat, led an initiative to meld 60 agencies into 13 departments under Act 38 of 1971.
Hutchinson said he is delighted with the passage of the legislation and he plans to sign it into law today.
“Historic change is never easy, but these efforts to increase efficiencies and improve services in state government are long overdue,” the governor said in a written statement. “This is a great day that sets Arkansas on a course for an even greater future with a state government that is more efficient, a better steward of taxpayer dollars, and serves the people of Arkansas well.”
The Republican governor has estimated that the reorganization effort could save about $15 million a year beginning in fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, 2020.
HB1763 would create 15 Cabinet-level departments headed by secretaries, starting in July.
It would establish the following Cabinet-level departments: agriculture; commerce; corrections; education; energy and environment; finance and administration; health; human services; inspector general; labor and licensing; military; parks, heritage and tourism; public safety; transformation and shared services; and veteran affairs.
The bill would permit Hutchinson to appoint a 25-member transition team composed of state employees to help in the implementation of the measure and the team would expire this year on July 31.
The legislation would require the governor or his designee to present a report by July 21 to the House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committees with a proposed timeline for the implementation of the Transformation and Efficiency Act of 2019 and a summary of any other work undertaken by the transition team.
Hutchinson said he plans to announce the appointment of a 15-member transition team today.