Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Private Option, Taxes, Education

by Lee Hogan  on Friday, Jun. 13, 2014 12:29 pm  

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson and Democratic candidate Mike Ross

Ross championed his plan that would provide learning to every 4-year-old in the state. The plan would open the program to families making 300 percent below the poverty level, and eventually cost the state $37.4 million a year after fully implemented. The current program allows children of families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level.

Hutchinson called his opponent's proposal the "wrong direction" for the state, and said he believes the focus should be put on the state's current plan that is not adequately funded.

"Why would we want to create a new government program when we're not funding the existing program?" Hutchinson said. 

Ross said his plan and funding would be rolled out in fiscally responsible phases.

"I would love to stand here and tell you that hopefully I can get this passed in the legislative session in January and within months we could have every 4-year-old in this stated enrolled in a pre-K program," he said. "It's going to take some time and that's why my plan phases it in."

Ross and Hutchinson also outlined their previously released tax plans. Ross' proposal would adjust the state's income tax brackets by making a 1997 law, which tied brackets to inflation, retroactive. Hutchinson's tax proposal would lower the income tax rate, which the GOP nominee said is important to make Arkansas' rate competitive with surrounding states.

While the gubernatorial candidates differed on various topics, both said they would be against more of the state's general revenue going toward funding for the Academic Challenge Scholarship. In addition, Ross and Hutchinson both expressed the need for more local control of Common Core education standards.



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