Gov. Mike Beebe last week asked legislators to allocate $4.3 million of Arkansas’ expected $310 million surplus in fiscal 2009 to reimburse counties for holding state prisoners in their jails and to keep the Health Department’s in-home program operating until the end of the budget year.

The bid for the $4.3 million appropriation is the governor’s largest request for supplemental funds from the general improvement fund, which is normally used to fund capital projects and meet non-recurring expenses.

The $3 million for county jail reimbursements brings the total bill for state prisoners in local lockups to $12.8 million in fiscal 2009. The Corrections Department said it did not ask for sufficient funding for the program because it anticipated opening a new prison unit in 2007. However, the facility is only now becoming operational.

Beebe’s proposed budget for fiscal 2010 includes $9.5 million for county jail reimbursements.

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