Now the Republican Twitter mavens are busy at the taping of the gubernatorial debate featuring Gov. Mike Beebe, Jim Keet and Green candidate Jim Lendall.
Keet has pledged not to add a single state employee in four years. And, one wonders, if college enrollment does explode thanks to the state lottery, which jobs will he cut to balance the need for new instructors? The Correction Department, which can't staff a Malvern prison despite exploding population. Maybe it would be the understaffed State Police. The Highway Department? Maybe Game and Fish, though since hunting is about to be a constitutional right in Arkansas it sure seems like you'd risk a PETA invasion if you cut back on wildlife officers.
Oh, wait. I know. Who needs a pollution regulatory agency? Or a securities department? Or a department looking out for insurance company fraud? And if we'd stop paying workers compensation for injuries, that's another agency we could shut down.
Get the GOP view here. Best I can tell Beebe camp isn't messing with Twitter.
I note again the enthusiastic Tea Partyer Laurie Lee Masterson has cheered Keet's promise that Arkansas will live within its means under him. Funny. I believe that's been the case under our balanced budget requirement since about the 19th century.
Republicans are cheering, too, questions about why Arkansas hasn't done something about illegal immigration. (Maybe because it's the job of the federal government? Maybe because immigrants are a net plus for Arkansas?) Keet promises to emulate Arizona. It's only been 50 years since Arkansas was a symbol of hate; time to dust off the trophy.
On the jump: The spin cycle.
BEEBE NEWS RELEASE
Today’s Gubernatorial Debate sponsored by the Arkansas Educational Television Network drew a clear distinction between Governor Mike Beebe’s leadership and his opponent Jim Keet’s willingness to say anything to get elected.
Gov. Beebe reiterated his plan to continue the progress Arkansas has made, even in the face of the worst national economy since the Great Depression.
In the last four years, Arkansas has:
* Announced over 25,000 new jobs across the state,
* Ranked 10th nationally in overall public education according to Education Week,
* Named one of only four states in the nation entering the fiscal year without a projected budget shortfall; and,
* Cut taxes for hardworking Arkansans by $665 million over the past four years, including the largest-ever tax cut in state history — the grocery tax cut, a cut to property taxes with expansion of the homestead credit, a cut to the tax on off-road diesel and a cut to the sales tax on energy for manufacturers.
Yet, Keet proved he is willing to say anything to get elected, even contradicting himself.
Keet said today he would consider further cuts to the grocery tax if elected, contradicting his previous statements. According to a recent Fox 16 News report, Keet said that cutting the remaining 2% of the sales tax on groceries is not a good idea.
“We actually did that,” Beebe said of the two cuts he led as Governor, already having reduced the tax on groceries by two-thirds and saving Arkansans $500,000,000 so far.
Governor’s Office Budget
Keet said he would cut the Governor’s Office budget by 20 percent, only to learn the Governor’s office was almost that much under-budget under Beebe’s leadership. The governor’s office, in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2010, did not spend 18 percent of its budget allotment.
Keet suggested revisiting the state’s minimum district number, putting Arkansas back in court to battle over the adequacy of an Arkansas education. “I have not proposed a specific plan,” though, Keet admitted. He said he wanted to revisit the 350 number during the debate but contradicting himself saying he supported the 350 standard.
The debate will air across the state this evening on AETN at 8 p.m.
REPUBLICAN NEWS RELEASE
Conway, Ark. — In response to the Arkansas Education Television Network (AETN) Arkansas Governor debate, Republican Party of Arkansas (RPA) Communications Director Katherine Vasilos released the following statement:
“Time and time again, Governor Mike Beebe stands to protect the ‘tradition and practice’ of the old boy network instead of standing up for the people of Arkansas. During the debate Governor Beebe dodged questions on government growth and illegal immigration failing to explain what he will do to move our state forward.
“As Governor, Mike Beebe refused to take a leadership role on vital issues like Obamacare and state-vehicle abuse until forced to by the people and media of this state.
“Governor Beebe waited four weeks before the election to announce he would take action on state-car abuse, yet still refused during the debate to tell Arkansans where he stands on Amendment 70. The people of Arkansas deserve state leaders who are committed to demanding transparency all the time, not just during an election year.
“Governor Beebe refused to answer the question on government growth in an attempt to protect his exploding government budget, growing number of state employees and almost 9,000 state-owned vehicles.
“Jim Keet is serious about reforming Arkansas’ outdated tax structure to inspire growth in the state and create an environment that attracts business and creates much-needed jobs. While Governor Beebe travels the state touting 25,000 jobs were created during his term, he is failing to mention these ‘announced’ jobs do not include jobs lost or not yet created. Even Senator Shane Broadway admitted during the AETN debate the 25,000 jobs include those which have not materialized.
“While Governor Beebe spent 28 years in state government, Jim Keet spent years in the private sector creating thousands of real, not ‘announced’ jobs. Arkansans deserve a conservative leader like Jim Keet who is vocal and honest about where we are as a state and where we need to go. It’s time to replace a career politician with a successful businessman.”