LITTLE ROCK — A bill to enable the proposed merger of Crowley’s Technical Institute in Forrest City into the neighboring East Arkansas Community College failed in a House vote Wednesday.

House Bill 1543 by Rep. Steve Hollowell, R-Forrest City, received 49 votes in support and 21 against, falling two votes short of the 51 needed for passage.

Hollowell told House members the proposed merger, part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan for streamlining state government, would save about $1 million a year by consolidating the administration of the schools.

Several members spoke for and against the bill. Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock, said people at Crowley’s Ridge are against the proposed merger because they want to preserve that school’s identity as a technical institute.

Hollowell said later he will talk to House members who voted against the bill or did not vote and will try to bring the measure back for another vote.

“It’s not a forced merger. It allows both schools to vote on a merger if they want to merge. I think there was some confusion on that,” he said.