State Legislature’s Political Shift Evident, Advocates Say

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 1 views 

Arkansas” first Republican-controlled General Assembly was different for a variety of constituencies. Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, checks in with several advocacy groups.

Writes Moritz:

Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, described it as “one of the most difficult (sessions) for us and quite frankly a lot of other folks as well.”

He expressed concern whether the state can handle the more than $140 million in tax cuts by fiscal 2016 approved by the Legislature without having to reduce services. Also, he noted funding will remain stagnant next year for the Arkansas Better Chance early childhood education program as well as the child welfare service program in the Division of Children and Family Services.

“If you look, not only are we not able to serve all the kids that need to be served in those programs but now those programs are basically having to cut corners,” Huddleston said. “At some point that’s going to slot machines online impact quality.”

Huddleston was complimentary of the private option health insurance expansion, however.  Other groups had what they described as a stellar session.

Jerry Cox, president of the Christian conservative Family Council, hailed the session as one of the best sessions his organization has ever had.

The conservative values of Arkansas voters were reflected in the Republican majority elected last November, he said.

“Elections matter,” he said. “The people determine what kind of Legislature we have, and they decided to send people to this building who share the views of the majority of the people of Arkansas.”

Cox said more half of the bills pushed by Family Council were passed and signed into law.

Moritz also garnered comments from representatives of the Sierra Club, ACLU, AFL-CIO, and the Arkansas Press Association. Read the full story here.