Governor Asa Hutchinson has spent the past three years accumulating a record of growing government, trying to raise taxes, and killing or watering down conservative legislation. Now that he has an opponent in the Republican Primary he is trying to “appear” conservative with a rapid succession of conservative sounding statements.
If campaign ad was made out of his recent statements it would look like this -below.
We looked at the Governor’s recent posturing on the four topics. Good sound bites, but not much of anything to it.
- Reduced “proposed” Medicaid Budget Increase. Don’t get confused. The Governor is not requesting a reduction in the Medicaid budget. He only wants to reduce the amount of the increase he previously requested. The budget for next fiscal year was proposed in budget hearings in 2016. Of course, a budget set that far out was not accurate. That is why annual legislative sessions were added by an Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Unfortunately, the budget process is largely being wasted as there are only abbreviated budget hearings based on 2016 recommendations.
Why was the Governor’s 2016 recommendation so far off? A lot has happened in the past year. First the economy is better and employment rates are down thanks to President Trump. Second, the Medicaid rolls have been inflated because the Hutchinson administration failed at operating an eligibility verification system. The Governor’s Department of Human Services wasted millions of dollars on a contract that had to be terminated, which created a long delay in implementing the verification system at double the cost. After a long delay the state has been able to some eligibility verification and therefore quit paying benefits to people who weren’t eligible to receive them.
- Requested the Public Service Commission to Reduce Utility Rates. The Governor based his request on the fact the Trump administration reduced taxes. A reduction would have been on the table without the Governor trying to get credit for the effort, because the PSC reviews utility rates and the utility’s cost of business is part of the equation. With federal taxes going down, utility companies costs go down. An examination of utility rates for a possible reduction would happen with or without Asa’s posturing.
- Requested Colleges and Universities to Freeze Tuition for One Year. There is not as much to this as it might appear. (A) The request comes only after recent additional funding to colleges and universities was passed; (B) The request leave open the option for colleges and universities to increase other fees charged students; (C) The request doesn’t apply to two-year colleges; (D) Shortly after making the request, the Governor had plenty of money to award Arkansas State University $500,000 to do a study on university efficiency; and (E) The requested tuition freeze is only for one year (just long enough for the Governor to get past this election year).
- Instructed the State Police that Open Carry of a Handgun is Legal. Well duh! We could have told you that back in 2015 when Act 746 was passed. Attorney General Rutledge said the same back in 2015. But it took a Republican primary opponent (who is a Second Amendment advocate) before Governor Hutchinson figured it out. By the way, the Governor also said you must have a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun. The Governor must have put on his liberal activist judge hat to come up with that idea. We challenge the Governor to show us any statement in law prohibiting or penalizing the carrying of a concealed handgun without a license.
Maybe if the Governor had an announced opponent last year we wouldn’t have had a 2017 legislative session where he passed so many taxes: a special tax on the mounting of new and used tires, a sales tax increase on soft drinks and candy, a new sales tax on internet downloads, and an income tax on unemployment compensation. Perhaps if he had an opponent last year he wouldn’t have tried to pass an internet sales tax and a tax on gasoline and diesel. Perhaps if he had had an opponent he wouldn’t have put stumbling blocks in front of conservative legislation.
Don’t get fooled again, no no