Federal funding accounts for an average of about 15 percent of the revenue of Arkansas public schools. Most of the federal grants to local schools have been distributed for this school year, therefore the threat of having to furlough school employees is minimal; unless the partial shutdown of the federal government lasts beyond December. The Education Commissioner said that our schools receive federal grants for teaching children with special needs and disabilities. They also provide some grants for teaching children from disadvantaged homes. The US Dept of Agri. pays for many food services provided by school cafeterias. The grants have already come in so the state has sufficient money until the end of the school year for the programs. Federal funding for cafeteria and food services should last until December. The vast majority of revenue for Arkansas public schools comes from local property taxes (about 32 percent) and state aid (about 48 percent). School funding is the largest single spending category in state’s general revenue fund.

It seems so often we have to warn people about scams. The new health insurance enrollment has brought out many and still the worst are the ones that prey on our seniors. Some are calling or emailing saying that the new Obama care affects Medicare recipients and that they need to provide personal information to be able to continue to get their checks. In many cases these scam artist are able to get social security numbers and even bank account numbers from the seniors who believe they might loose their Medicare. Do not give that information out to just someone that calls and know this program does not change any Medicare. The new health care program does not change Medicare.

More than 55,000 Arkansans who are eligible for subsidized health insurance under Arkansas’ private option, have notified our DHS that they want to enroll. Many parents who explore the new health insurance options that are now available are finding that their uninsured children already qualify for the state’s ARKids First plan, and they were not aware that they qualified.Children from families with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for the program. In 2013 the poverty level is $23,550 for a four person household. One of the things that those checking into the new health insurance options need to know is to not cancel any insurance that they have at the present time because the new insurance does not take effect until Jan 2014.

If you would like to contact me please email me at bruce.holland@senate.ar.gov or call my office at 650-1884 or write me at P.O. Box 2387 Greenwood AR 72936. Have a good week.