Review of politics, business available with State of the State 2022 series

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 529 views 

An easy, one-stop place for a summary of economic and political issues and conditions in Arkansas and nationally can be found with the recently concluded Talk Business & Politics State of the State 2022 series.

In addition to a political piece from award-winning columnist John Brummett, a columnist with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the series included stories on healthcare, tourism, construction, energy, trucking and logistics, retail, education and the overall state economy.

Brummett noted in his story: In most areas of the state, a less-angry conservative’s only path is as a Republican. An independent challenger to a more extreme Republican might be electorally credible only in a few places. A candidacy with a “D” beside it would be toxic anywhere but Washington, Pulaski and a few Delta counties, owing to abortion and cultural issues and disdain for the national Democratic agenda, which Joe Biden has not moderated. Arkansas Democrats are reduced to a smattering of legislative seats from Little Rock, Fayetteville and a couple of strips of the Delta. Statewide, they appear to be locked in at 32% to 38%.

Following is an excerpt from the report by Steve Brawner on healthcare: Another change accelerated by COVID has been the increased use of telemedicine. According to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), telemedicine use among Medicare beneficiaries was 30 times larger during the first year of the pandemic than it was during the preceding year. But telemedicine requires adequate broadband, cybersecurity measures, and changes to the way medical providers run their businesses.

The economy story relied heavily on analysis from John Shelnutt, administrator of economic and tax research at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. He said high growth in several sectors – travel, restaurants, personal services, and educational services – expected for early in 2022 may be pushed forward to mid-year because of the Omicron surge. Shelnutt believes conditions will improve in 2022 for the state’s labor market and for workers.

“Overall, the story of continued labor market recovery and expansion is still on track. Total wage income growth will still be elevated in 2022 from the combined factors of job gains, wage acceleration, inflation, and afterglow of past and current stimulus deployment. Stimulus payments to households will be replaced by greater opportunity in the labor market.”

The series also included interviews with Arkansas Center for Health Improvement CEO Dr. Joe Thompson, Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton, and the Arkansas Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses Sylvester Smith. That roundtable story noted: Headed into 2022, business leaders agree that a rough ride remains. The healthcare sector is under immense pressure, while supply chain complications continue to affect the flow and price of goods. Large and small businesses are figuring out how to navigate in the new economy, but the parameters for commerce are still changing.

Link here to find the State of the State 2022 stories. Series’ sponsors were Black Hills Energy, Crafton Tull, First Security Bank, Nabholz and QualChoice.