Northwest Arkansas lawmakers were upbeat about Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s remarks to the state Legislature on Tuesday (Jan. 13).
Hutchinson, who was sworn in as the state’s 46th Governor, laid out plans to bring a variety of issues to state lawmakers, including education, jobs, health care, and prisons.
Four Northwest Arkansas legislators offered their opinions to Talk Business & Politics immediately following Hutchinson’s speech.
Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest
TB&P: What did you think of Gov. Hutchinson’s speech to the legislature?
King: I thought he gave a great speech. He talked about jobs and the economy, that’s the No. 1 thing that people here in Arkansas are looking at.
TB&P: What do you think your working relationship will be with this Governor versus the last?
King: I don’t know. Bryan King, as you know, I work on what I want to work on. I have a good relationship with Michael Lamoureux [Hutchinson’s chief of staff] – always have even though we’ve been opposite on some issues. I’m known as kind of a cowboy down here, but it resonates with the people in my district and no matter what, I had a district gerrymandered to beat me and I go out there and tell the people what you want to do and say what you mean and mean what you say.
Rep. David Whitaker, D-Fayetteville
TB&P: What was your reaction to the Governor’s speech?
Whitaker: My reaction was very positive. He hit some wonderful grace notes about us working together and doing what’s right for the state. I don’t know if anyone else noticed it, but I was happily surprised that he specifically mentioned pre-K in the speech. I’m anxious and look forward to seeing his health care speech and his specific budget when it’s unveiled. But so far, so good.
TB&P: Can you work with this governor?
Whitaker: Oh, yeah. I’m from up there. We’re both Northwest Arkansas attorneys, so I think we kind of speak the same language. His son, Asa, was actually a year behind me at the law school up there. We’ve got warm feelings for each other, so that’s not a problem.
Rep. Micah Neal, R-Springdale
TB&P: What was the best thing, biggest takeaway from the Governor’s speech today?
Neal: I think the best thing I heard is he wants to get right to work on the tax cuts and help the people. He’s still thinking about the health care and I think that’s good. He’s getting his plan together and I look forward to hearing what he has to say about that.
Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville
TB&P: What was your impression of Gov. Hutchinson’s speech?
Collins: I was impressed and excited. Asa’s going to be a fantastic governor. As he said in his speech, it’s a new day in Arkansas. We’re going to bring to life conservative principles. He talked about things like a flatter tax code. He talked about things like growing jobs, improving education, skills like computer science in high school. I think all of those are great ideas and I look forward to working with the governor.