By Ray King

Arkansas will end the fiscal year with an additional $360 million in revenue they were not expecting, Governor Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday.

Among other things, that means that state employees will be receiving a 2.2 percent merit pay raise.

At his daily COVID-19 press briefing, the Governor said that with the money, $121 million will be put back into funding for public schools and $42.4 million back into funds for higher education. The funds had been taken out when the state’s fiscal budget was redone in anticipation of less revenue because of businesses that were closed as a result of COVID-19.

Another $72.2 million will go back to the state’s Medicaid trust fund and Hutchinson said there will be about $152 million in dollars that have not been appropriated by the general assembly.

Regarding the daily COVID-19 numbers, Hutchinson said an additional 520 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the state total to 20,777. Of those, 5,976 are active cases and 14,531 people have recovered.

There are currently 290 people hospitalized, that’s 10 less than on Monday and there have been five additional deaths, raising the state total to 270.

Washington County again had the most cases of any county in the state with 152 and State Health Officer Dr. Nate Smith said officials are planning targeted testing in that county. Pulaski County reported 118 cases, with 44 percent of them in Little Rock and another 30 percent from Wrightsville. Smith said those cases are believed to be at the Wrightsville Unit of the Department of Corrections. Benton County, which reported nearly 100 cases last week was down to 33 while Faulkner County reported 23 and Yell County 21. No other county in the state reported over 21.