Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beebe downplays differences; hints at big project; says no one to be thrown out of nursing homes

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 10:46 AM

NOT THAT DIFFERENT: Beebe speaks to joint session.
  • 'NOT THAT DIFFERENT': Beebe speaks to joint session.
Gov. Mike Beebe addressed the joint legislative session this morning, his 14th as legislator or governor and made a little news after opening with a call for unity.

He downplayed media emphasis on how this session might be different, given the historic Republican majority.

"This session will not be that different. Fellow Arkansans selected us and gave us the task of acting in the best interest of our fellow men and women," Beebe said.

UPDATE: Full speech transcript here.


* JOBS: Beebe said he'd be asking the legislature for help landing "one of the biggest projects the state has ever seen." No details yet.

(I asked Matt DeCample for more details. His response:

"Believe me, if we had more details to release, they would have been in the speech.")

UPDATE: Arkansas Business speculates and maybe arches an eyebrow a tiny bit at the billion-dollar value being tossed around. That's more than a Toyota assembly plant in Texas. State is indicating state-backed bonds would be involved. Hope it's not for a steel mill like the big one that flopped in Alabama.

* SALES TAX CUT: Beebe said he couldn't propose elimination of the small sales tax remaining on food "without endangering needed services." But he said he'd propose legislation to dedicate any future savings from what he said was the inevitable end of state payments in the Pulaski County desegregation case to removing the sales tax on food. He said that might be a year, two years or more away.

* MEDICAID AND NURSING HOME CARE: He said numbers were still in flux on what's necessary to fully fund the existing Medicaid program, though it should be smaller than what has been expected and level 3 nursing home care now seems sure to be protected. Folks will not be thrown out of nursing homes, he said. He touted the smallest growth in Medicaid funding in years.

But he said cuts will still be necessary to balance the books on the program and they will affect "real people." He then turned to the working poor who are without health care insurance. He said federal law provides an expansion of Medicaid to cover them, but it will be up to each state to decide whether to do it. He recited the familiar facts — coverage for 250,000 people at no cost to the state for three years and then a rising cost that tops at 10 percent in 2020. It would provide "immediate savings" in Medicaid that would cover shortfalls in the current program. It would benefit 40,000 hospital workers and "tens of thousands" more workers in related health businesses. A failure to expand the program will continue the "hidden tax" of unpaid services that drive up the cost of health care and insurance for everyone — an average $1,500 a year in premiums to pay for uncompensated care.

Beebe said a conservative estimate of Medicaid expansion's cost in 2020, should the state have to pay it, after factoring in the economic benefit of increased federal dollars both in direct state aid and circulating through the taxed economy, would be tiny, $5 million a year.

He said he, too, was worried about the national debt. But he said that should be done in Washington, as a president from Arkansas once did. Arkansas shouldn't sacrifice its share of the money to other states, Beebe said.

* SCHOOLS: Beebe said the legislature might have to revisit school funding on account of a recent state Supreme Court ruling that Beebe has criticized for ending an equal tax millage contribution to the state aid fund by all school districts. He'll propose a "modest" contribution to reducing inequities in higher education spending.

* STATE EMPLOYEES: He'll propose a 2 percent raise for state employees.

* BIPARTISANSHIP: "We must resolve not to let Washington's animosity seep in and poison our well of civil discourse." Lots of applause. Subsequent action will be a better barometer of receptiveness to that viewpoint that today's clapping.

Tags: , ,


Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Arkansas Supreme Court denies rehearing in death penalty challenge, but delays mandate

    The Arkansas Supreme Court today refused to rehear the case denying Death Row inmates information about drugs used by the state in the lethal injection process.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Welspun layoffs: Another example of corporate welfare folly

    Layoffs at the Welspun pipe plant in Little Rock are a reminder of the folly of corporate welfare and the inability of Arkansas to separate itself from global economic forces. See the Fayetteville shale. And keep a watchful eye on that Sun Paper pulp mill proposed near Arkadelphia.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Hamburg bank manager gets 21 months for theft

    Melinda Gwin, 49, of Hamburg has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $210,875 stolen from the First National Bank of Crossett. She was sentenced in El Dorado federal court, according to a Justice Department news release.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Hutchinson names Allen Kerr to head Insurance, keeps Sheila Sharp at Community Correction

    Asa Hutchinson has announced that former state Rep. Allen Kerr of Little Rock will be the insurance commissioner in his administration, succeeding Jay Bradford, and that Sheila Sharp will remain as director of the Department of Community Correction.
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Father and son turned away from "Muslim-free" Hot Springs gun range for being brown

    A college student and his dad who visited a gun range over the weekend for some bonding time over target practice were told to leave after the owner grew suspicious that the pair were...Muslims! Nope, not Muslims — they just happened to not be white. Either way, though, it's rank discrimination.
    • Jan 13, 2015
  • Is Arkansas planning to withdraw from PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium?

    Rep. Mark Lowery, a Republican from Maumelle, has introduced a bill that would put the brakes on Arkansas's implementation of standardized testing based on Common Core State Standards. Lowery says the bill is motivated in part because legislators have been told by ADE officials, unofficially, that "the PARCC contract will not be renewed" beyond the current academic year.
    • Feb 3, 2015

Most Shared

  • Best of Arkansas 2016

    Readers elect their favorites.
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
  • These Hogs won't be thin

    This may be the strongest returning receiving corps that the Razorbacks have fielded in the post-Petrino days.
  • Trump-Putin 2016

    Among the thousand bizarre aspects of the presidential campaign has been the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin axis.

Most Recent Comments



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation