Asa Hutchinson | Arkansas Governor
I love history, and this week I was reminded of a speech made in the British Parliament during the critical days before World War II, when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was taking England and our allies down the wrong path. Prime Minister Chamberlain had just made a speech in parliament and it was up to the opposition party leader, Arthur Greenwood, to give the response.
Greenwood began very nervously: “I am speaking under difficult circumstances, with no opportunity to think about what I should say, and I speak what is in my heart at this moment.”
Another member of parliament, Leo Amery, was on the back row of the chambers and was frustrated that Greenwood was simply speaking for the Labour Party at this perilous time for England. Amery stood up from the back of the chamber and shouted, “Speak for England, Arthur!”
At that moment, Greenwood changed his message, spoke for England and gave the greatest speech of his life and, perhaps, changed the course of history.
This week in the Arkansas General Assembly, we might not have been as dramatic as the debate before the Great War, but I was proud of what we did. We all came together and spoke for Arkansas.
On Wednesday, the Arkansas Senate passed funding for Arkansas Works, with twenty-seven voting in favor of the legislation. Yesterday, another three-fourths vote was achieved in the House.
Passing Arkansas Works has been a difficult journey. But we’ve accomplished what we set out to do because our legislators looked for and found a solution, together. Both Republicans and Democrats brought the General Assembly together to support the funding for Arkansas Works.
After I received the legislation, I exercised my line-item veto authority, which rejects the sunset clause which would end the Arkansas Works program on December 31. Now, the funding bill has been passed and signed into law.
This has been a long process, starting with the formation of the Legislative Task Force on Healthcare Reform, all the way to setting up the framework for reform to encourage more work opportunities and more reliance on employer-based insurance. I applaud Senator Jim Hendren and Representative Charlie Collins for their exemplary leadership as the reform bill moved through the legislature.
The budget session began last week, and now, only eight days later, the funding of our state’s healthcare needs has been accomplished. We attained stability in our healthcare system and bipartisanship within the legislature. That is a good week.
There was a lot of courage involved, and I commend our legislators for their resolve and their passion in dealing with this subject. As governor, I applaud the action of the Arkansas General Assembly this week and everyone who worked to make this a success.
It’s been quite a week, but we’ve still got more business to do. At the end of the day, I am confident the people of Arkansas will be pleased with what we’ve accomplished. And that’s something that we, as public servants for the State of Arkansas, can ALL be proud.