Arkansas groups form coalition to push broad socio-economic legislative package

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,297 views 

The Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the Urban League of the State of Arkansas, and the Arkansas Education Association are among 15 groups forming the Arkansas Coalition for Strong Families to push a legislative platform in the 2023 Arkansas General Assembly.

According to a statement from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the new coalition “envisions an Arkansas where everyone, no matter their age, background, race, gender, disability, or status, has the opportunity to live meaningful, fulfilling lives in strong, thriving communities. It is comprised of organizations across the state working on mental health care, education, disability rights, racial equity, family economic well-being, and more.”

Other members of the coalition are AAUW Arkansas, Arkansas Association for Infant Mental Health, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, Arkansas Community Organizations, Arkansas Public Policy Panel, Arkansas Support Network, Arkansas Waiver Association, Citizens First Congress, Disability Rights Arkansas, Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas, Marshallese Education Association, and Rural Community Alliance.

“For the past 10 years, our state budget has been shrinking, and outcomes for kids have gotten worse,” said Syard Evans, co-chair of the Arkansas Coalition for Strong Families. “This is not a coincidence. We need to be investing in housing, child care, nutrition and health care.”

Following are the priorities the group plans to push in the upcoming legislative session.
• Establish 12-Month eligibility for children with ARKids A
• Extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months
• Increase access to period products in schools by amending Act 933 of 2021
• Eliminate the sales tax on period products
• Raise or eliminate the state SNAP asset limit
• Create a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
• Create eviction diversion programs
• Establish Supported Decision Making and Alternatives to Guardianship
• Allow online voter registration
• Eliminate youth fees and fines
• Invest in Direct Support Professional Workforce Stabilization and Development
• Increase funding for the state’s Arkansas Better Chance pre-school program to allow more children to enroll

“The past two years have made clear the importance of community investments and public services,” said Candace Williams, co-chair of the Arkansas Coalition for Strong Families. “Now is the time for the state to do its part and build an economy that works for everyday Arkansans.”