The Arkansas State Legislature will convene in Little Rock next week.
Roads, taxes and teacher pay are among the issues to be considered. Lawmakers say road maintenance is critical and a gas tax will be considered to generate much needed revenue. Representative Carol Dalby said, “We have got to come up with a solution that is long-term and forward thinking.” Senator Jimmy Hickey added, “What people don’t see is our bridges, they’re in need of work also.”
When it comes to education, officials will also consider raising minimum teacher salaries by a thousand dollars a year for the next four years. Hickey thinks the legislation will be easily approved. “I think the majority of the legislature up there understands the importance of our teachers and they feel they’re underpaid anyway,” he said.
Dalby may file bills benefiting Texarkana fire and police departments. One pertains to mandatory reporting in support of the ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign. Other legislation would help local fire departments maintain a strong workforce. “We’re looking at that to see about helping them in recruiting,” Dalby said.
Lawmakers will also weigh a massive bill that contains over a thousand pages. Hickey said, “I want to make sure we go through that thing line for line by line.” Governor Asa Hutchinson has proposed reducing the number of state agencies from forty-two to fifteen. Dalby said, “I think we’ll need to reduce where we can reduce, but we’ve got to be careful and not reduce just for the sake of reducing.”
The Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and many of its members plan to visit with lawmakers in Little Rock on February 6th. All chamber members are invited to attend.