Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
January 24th, 2019 • News

January 24, 2019

  • The legislature completed its second full week of business, and most of the work was done in Senate committees.
  • The State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee got its first look at what may be the most complex bills that will come up this session. They would implement a wholesale restructuring of state agencies.
  • They would reduce the number of cabinet level agencies from 42 to 15. According to the administration they would ultimately save taxpayers about $15 million a year, but we have not yet seen a fiscal impact study that would confirm this amount.
  • Saving money and making government more efficient is a popular concept. However, lawmakers need to pay close attention to the details of the consolidation plan.
    State agencies should be responsive to citizens’ needs and concerns.
  • We need to proceed carefully. Agencies like Livestock and Poultry, Pollution Control and Ecology, the Oil and Gas Commission and the state Plant Board all work closely with farmers, agricultural businesses, timber companies and manufacturers.
  • When you contact a state agency, you shouldn’t have to struggle through a long list of menus in order to get through to a real human being.
  • If those smaller agencies are combined into one massive department, we must make sure that the savings it produces are worth the cost.
  • I will carefully weigh the costs and the benefits of the governor’s plan. I will consider it from the perspective that there are certain programs whose funding is a priority, such as rural fire departments, senior citizens centers and libraries.
  • We need to enhance pre-kindergarten, not only in eastern Arkansas but all across the state. We also need to increase funding of the special education catastrophic occurrences program, which provides critical financial protection to local school districts.
  • Salaries of our state troopers, and all personnel within the State Police, need to be more competitive.
  • I fully support the efforts of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS to be designated as a National Cancer Institute Center.
  • The designation would generate millions of dollars in grants and federal funding, and it would create an estimated 1,500 jobs over five years.
      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from January 24, 2019