Mike Beebe Drives the Debate, Not the Agenda (AP Analysis)

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 12:30 pm  

"My instincts tell me that this session will not be that different for either of us," Mike Beebe said. (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

He also pleaded with lawmakers to not use the expansion debate as a way to send Washington a message about federal spending.

"We balance our budgets and we don't need to sacrifice our share of federal money to other states," he said. "Refusing money to help our people may make a statement to the federal government, but it will cost us more at home, will jeopardize the health of our fellow Arkansans and won't solve the problems of our national counterparts."

Beebe's argument may encourage supporters of the expansion who are preparing to aggressively lobby legislators over the issue, but swaying over a skeptical GOP-led General Assembly is another matter.

"I really think there's been no movement," Senate President Michael Lamoureux, a Republican who's held out hope for a compromise on expansion, said after Beebe's speech. "If there is movement, it's going to be based on new information from Washington and committee work."

While Lamoureux and other Republicans are looking to Washington for answers on whether such a compromise is possible, Beebe made it clear he's looking there for a different reason.

"We must resolve to not let Washington's animosity seep in and poison our well of civil discourse," Beebe said. "Arkansas cannot change the way things are done in D.C., but we can continue to set the example of how men and women with differing views can still come together in the best interests of our citizens."

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