Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson spoke to the Political Animals Club of Central Arkansas on Tuesday morning. A group of around 100 politicos gathered for breakfast on the top floor of the Regions building in downtown Little Rock to listen to the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
Hutchinson began his remarks by poking fun at himself and his potential general election opponent, Democratic candidate Mike Ross, by listing the top five reasons Ross was able to raise $1.97 million for his campaign.
5) According to the City Wire, the odds are 1/15,000 of a third Mike in a row being elected Governor. So, the donors thought they were buying lottery tickets!
4) While publicly saying he was not going to run for Governor, Mike Ross secretly had a telephone surgically implanted in his ear.
3) Mike Ross hypnotized the donors and explained that his vote for Obamacare will not be an issue in 2014.
2) He promised a John Burkhalter home in every driveway.
1) Mike Ross announced his support for Bill Halter to run for President of the AFL-CIO.
The meat of Asa’s speech focused on how he feels Arkansas can prepare for what he called the “coming jobs war.”
While touting Arkansas’ unique position to compete in today’s job market, he pointed to several statistics that show Arkansas lagging in job growth compared to neighboring states. To compete, he pointed to three areas he felt were critical.
First, Hutchinson said Arkansas needs to lower its state income tax rate. With a 7% top marginal rate starting at $32,600 of taxable income, Arkansas has one of the highest income tax rates in the region, he said. Lowering these rates through state income tax reform is critical to attracting jobs to the state, said Hutchinson.
Secondly, Hutchinson said that the state needs to pass tort reform legislation. He said he was disappointed that the state legislature was not able to tackle the issue in the previous session after the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down provisions of a tort reform law in late 2011.
“We need a Republican governor who will lead our Republican majority legislature to pass reasonable tort reform legislation in order to compete in this coming jobs war,” said Hutchinson.
Finally, Hutchinson pointed to the need for improving education, particularly in the area of technical computer science. He said that preparing students for high-tech jobs was important to create a workforce that would attract high-tech companies to invest in Arkansas.
While focused mainly on job creation, Hutchinson also touched on a couple of additional issues in his appearance. He said that the state’s parole system is broken and needs to be fixed. He said when asked about developing the state’s infrastructure that he was pleased that voters approved the half-cent sales tax dedicated to roads, but felt that even more would need to be done in the future.
The Political Animals Clubs invited all of the announced gubernatorial candidates to speak. All are scheduled except for Democratic candidate Bill Halter.
Curtis Coleman will speak to the group on August 8; Mike Ross on August 16; and Debra Hobbs on August 20.