Arkansas Speaker of the House-designate, Rep. Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, won’t take office until January 2019, but he’s already rolling up his sleeves to gear up for the transition.
Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Shepherd said he wants to find ways to optimize House members’ leadership roles and he’s keen on working with Gov. Asa Hutchinson to reduce the size of state government.
“[F]or me, efficiency involves really two aspects. One is, what are we spending? And obviously we want to try and be very prudent with our expenditure of funds. But then the second part, and what we also have to keep in mind is, the quality of the services that we are delivering. And I believe we can, that there’s an opportunity here for us to look to save money, while at the same time, providing better services to the citizens of Arkansas,” he said.
Technology will play a key role in the delivery of improved and more efficient government services, Shepherd says. He has served on the Governor’s Transformation Advisory Board, which has studied the issue for more than a year.
“I think that there is ample opportunity to generate savings in state government.”
Having closed a short special session this week that was largely called to deal with the pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) crisis, Shepherd said immediate relief may not come for pharmacists, but the framework for a better regulated marketplace will eventually settle from the changes that state lawmakers made.
“I think that it somewhat remains to be seen as to the immediate impact, although I think it sends a strong message across the industry as to the fact that this is a burning issue,” he said.
Shepherd will spend the next several months working with two-term Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia. He plans to tab capable House members – capitalizing on strengths regardless of member differences – to get more widespread involvement in legislative matters.
“I would like to broaden some of the appointments and opportunities for House members to try and spread that involvement across the House more broadly. I think that’s important in terms of engaging the members and also in developing other leaders and developing some degree of expertise in different areas,” Shepherd said. “… each person has different strengths, and hopefully one of the things that I want to work towards is similar to what I did in House Judiciary, is trying to work with each member, trying to work to build consensus. Because most of the issues we face are not necessarily partisan or ideological, they’re just issues that may affect different parts of the state, or there may be just a slightly different take from one member to the other.”
You can watch his full interview in the video below.