Gov. Asa Hutchinson thinks the trade war with China should end and he sent a message to President Donald Trump through Vice President Mike Pence recently. The tariffs imposed by China in retaliation for the tariffs Trump placed on Chinese steel and aluminum are having a catastrophic impact on farmers, especially soybean farmers. Soybeans are the top crop grown in Arkansas and have been targeted by the Chinese.
“He needs to declare victory and move on,” Hutchinson said Friday at the NEA Political Animals meeting in Jonesboro.
Predicting how this year’s electorate will react will be difficult, he said. In a non-presidential voting year, about 200,000 fewer people show up at the polls in the Natural State, he said. Every poll has Hutchinson comfortably ahead in his race against Democrat Jared Henderson. He told the crowd he expects to secure a second term when the ballots are cast on Nov. 6.
If he wins a second term, Hutchinson said he wants to increase teacher pay by $4,000. He wants to reduce the number of cabinet agencies from 42 to 15, and he will ask the Arkansas General Assembly to draft a highway funding plan that will be voted on in 2020 by voters. Hutchinson said that during his term taxes have been cut by $150 million, and if he’s re-elected, he plans to drop personal tax rates from 6.9% to 5.9%.
Besides the tax cuts, Hutchinson touted other accomplishments during his tenure. More than 70,000 jobs have been created, and the state has had record unemployment rates. He has pushed for computer coding programs in the state’s public school system, he said.
Arkansas voters will decide on several amendments this cycle, and the governor said he won’t support two of them. An amendment that would increase the state’s minimum wage could stifle the state’s ability to attract job creators, but he did admit it’s a popular amendment and might pass. It could have a detrimental impact on youth employment, he added. Hutchinson also won’t support an amendment to allow casino gambling in Arkansas.
The governor said he enjoys his frequent trips to the Northeast part of the state. He noted that the economy in the region is booming and when he visits other parts of the state he talks about how well industry and businesses are performing in this part of the state.
Campaigns for public office are always an interesting experience and interacting with voters is memorable, Hutchinson said. One voter sent him a message. The voter said he lived on a fixed income and couldn’t donate any money to his campaign, but he would vote for him. But, the endorsement was provisional.
“He said ‘I decided to vote for you until something better comes along,’” Hutchinson said to a chorus of laughter. “That’s a typical Arkansas voter.”