Posted 1/14/2013 12:00 am
Whatever laws they enact, Arkansas legislators will create history in the 89th General Assembly that starts Monday. The Legislature will be majority Republican for the first time in 138 years. That historic shift brings both opportunity and increased scrutiny.
Here’s your chance, lawmakers, to do right by your state.
• First, expand Medicaid to the quarter of a million Arkansans lacking health insurance. We’ll be repeating this request until your actions indicate you have heard. Don’t wait until the end of the session to address the issue, and please don’t wait for a separate session, as some have suggested. (That wouldn’t be fiscally prudent, and we understand you’re all about fiscal prudence these days.) Once you have cleared the way for Arkansas to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds, other legislative funding priorities will fall into place. With Medicaid expansion, you will be preserving rural hospitals, jobs and the health of your fellow citizens.
• Provide more lottery scholarship money to nontraditional students. It’s a truism because it’s true: Those who’ve experienced life’s hardships firsthand often have a greater drive to succeed when given the opportunity. If nontraditional and returning students get a chance, we predict a good return on investment.
• Give state Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s office your full attention. The feds sure are.