Under Republican leadership, Arkansas has been steadily making progress in terms of growing our economy, improving access to healthcare, creating educational opportunities, and reducing the size of government. I’m proud of the role I have played in that.
When I first ran for State Senate, I pledged to vote against Obamacare. At that time, Obamacare had been implemented less than a year, but we were already seeing the negative impact it was having on the healthcare industry through higher insurance premiums and the closure of many healthcare facilities.
Once elected, I kept my promise and voted against Arkansas’ version of Obamacare, the Private Option. I was appointed to the Healthcare Task Force and I and others began pushing for reforms. We knew costs were spiraling and we had to fight to ensure that the negative impact was as minimal as possible.
Out of these reforms now known as Arkansas Works, we required that any able-bodied individual be working or looking for employment if they wanted to receive Obamacare benefits. I like this idea because I know there are those among us that take advantage of government programs and we must bring that to a stop.
There are those, including my Republican primary opponent, who disagree with that mindset. They advocate that we return to giving away free government handouts through regular Obamacare. I think that is the wrong move for our state and goes against what the majority of our conservative-leaning citizens prefer.
Before we implemented Arkansas Works, several rural hospitals were shutting their doors. Our policy, along with other reforms, have slowed that trend. Now access to healthcare is better than it ever has been. In fact, four Arkansas hospitals recently received the best rating a hospital can receive. I’m proud to tell you, two of those hospitals are right here in Jonesboro.
There is still work to do. While access has improved, costs continue to rise. Further reforms must be targeted toward patient overcharging, insurance and drug pricing controls.
Another area where we’ve been making progress under Republican leadership is tax reform. Our income tax reductions have been the biggest cut in Arkansas history, and have lowered taxes on every working individual in our state.
I am advocating that we continue to lower the tax burden by moving more towards consumption-based taxes that create a fair playing field. An example would be online sales tax. Sales tax is collected by every brick-and-mortar store, and was being collected by Arkansas’ largest employer, Walmart, on all of their online transactions.
Bad apples, like liberal-owned Amazon, were not remitting sales taxes, giving them an unfair advantage over mom-and-pop stores and over Arkansas-based companies. That wasn’t fair, so we corrected the problem. Sales tax revenue, which catches and is paid for by literally everyone, including criminals who never pay income tax, has allowed us to lower income taxes on hard-working folks like you and me.
I believe when we direct tax revenue to what it should pay for, like using fuel taxes to pay for roads, it gives people confidence in how tax dollars are spent. It also ensures illegal immigrants, criminals dealing in cash, and those that cheat the system have to pay taxes also.
As I seek re-election, I’m proud to be running on a record of reforming Obamacare, lowering the overall tax burden, and promoting conservative values. While others like to tell you what you want to hear, I’ve kept my campaign promises, and will do so again.
Editor’s note: State Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, is running for re-election to State Senate District 21 in the March 3 Republican primary. The opinions expressed are those of the author.