Following Tuesday’s (Jan. 13) inauguration of Asa Hutchinson as Arkansas’ 46th governor, Talk Business & Politics interviewed four legislators from Northwest Arkansas, with all four – including one Democrat – optimistic about the new governor’s leadership.
• 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.