Since 2015, the Hutchinson Administration has led the effort to pass legislation providing a total of more than $150 million income tax relief to 1.3 million Arkansans.
2015: $102 Million Cut (Largest in Arkansas History):
2017: $50 Million Cut (Second Largest in Arkansas History):
In 2017, Governor Hutchinson signed the second largest cut to the income tax rate in Arkansas history—$50M. This cut targeted low-income Arkansans.
2017: $13 Million Retired Military Tax Cut:
In 2017, the Governor signed legislation eliminating the income tax on military retirement pay, known as the Retired Military Tax Cut.
Governor Hutchinson has balanced the budget, avoided debt, consolidated agencies, cut overhead and administrative expenses and—what's more—he laid the groundwork for deeper cuts and stronger efficiencies in the future.
Even though there have been many successes for this administration over the last 36 months, Governor Hutchinson is confident that the best is yet to come—including future tax cuts and reform.
2015 - Hiring Freeze:
Governor Hutchinson's first act on his first day in office was to institute a hiring freeze so that the state could be more efficient and prudent in how it staffed state government.
As a result, the state has saved millions of dollars in salaries and removed hundreds of state government positions from the state payroll, through attrition.
2015 - Consolidations:
In 2015, the General Assembly passed Governor Hutchinson's initiative to consolidate certain agencies, saving taxpayer dollars and creating more efficiencies in order to better provide services to Arkansans. Those consolidations included:
These consolidations alone created $2 million in annual savings (more than $10 million over the next 5 years).
All of this has been done while maintaining the same vital services that he inherited from the previous administration.
2017 - Consolidations:
In 2017, the General Assembly passed Governor Hutchinson's initiative to consolidate certain agencies, saving taxpayer dollars and creating more efficiencies in order to better provide services to Arkansans. Those consolidations included, among others:
Additional consolidations and efforts to shrink government included a bill that eliminated 19 boards and commissions deemed unnecessary, while reducing others. One example was the Detention Facility Review Board, which had the number of districts reduced from 28 to eight and the number of commissioners from 144 to 40.
Cut a majority of agencies' budgets by 1% and has kept them flat through FY19.
Prioritized surplus dollars to meet the federal match obligation for highway funding through the Arkansas Highway Improvement Plan of 2016.
2015 – Computer Science Initiative:
In 2015, Arkansas became the first state to pass comprehensive legislation requiring computer science courses be taught in every public high school.
To date, Arkansas has trained hundreds of teachers across the state in computer science instruction, and we're not finished yet.
To date, 6,184 high school students are enrolled in computer science classes for the 2017-2018 school year. That's up from just over a thousand in 2014.
In 2016, Arkansas led the nation again when the state's Department of Education developed new K-8 computer science standards.
Arkansas is the only state in the country to have met all 9 policy standards set by Code.org.
Governor Hutchinson's leadership on computer science education has garnered the state national recognition, from the White House to national media outlets and tech companies, including:
2017 – 100% Broadband Connectivity:
In July 2017, Governor Hutchinson announced the completion of the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN), the high-speed broadband upgrade for 100% of the state's K-12 school systems.
With the project's completion, Arkansas became only the sixth state to achieve at least 100 kilobits per second (kbps) per student.
2017 – Cyber Range Announcement:
In October 2017, Governor Hutchinson announced that a $500K grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will be provided to the University of Central Arkansas to help pay for a fully functional dedicated cyber range for educational training—a first-of-its-kind operation.
This represents the next step in the Governor's computer science initiative and will keep Arkansas as a national leader in technology education.
A cyber range is a dedicated computer system that can simulate a computer network. Using the cyber range, students will learn how to identify a cyber-attack and defend against it.
A signed MOU between UCA and the Arkansas Education Television Network created a partnership to develop cyber security, coding, computer programming, computer science and other curricula for all Arkansas schools.
The interdisciplinary bachelor's degree in cyber security is expected to begin in fall of 2018.
2017 – ArFuture Grant:
In 2017, Governor Hutchinson signed the ArFuture Grant into law, which provides up to two years of tuition and fees at a publicly funded Arkansas community or technical college to any student who enrolls in a high-demand field of study or STEM field, such as computer science or welding.
This state-funded grant does not require new general revenue funds and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis to traditional, home school and non-traditional students in Arkansas.
2017 – Higher Education Productivity Funding Formula:
In 2017, Governor Hutchinson signed into law a new funding formula for Higher Education institutions.
The new formula is based upon student progress rather than student enrollment.
The formula will increase accountability by taking into account student success and program completion, whereas the previous formula was largely based on student enrollment.
When Governor Hutchinson was elected, he made it a goal for his administration to increase the percentage of Arkansans who attain post-secondary degrees from 40% to 60% by 2025. This funding formula takes the state one step further toward achieving that goal.
2015 – Pre-K Funding:
In his first year in office, Governor Hutchinson appropriated $3M in new funds for Pre-K. Prior to this new appropriation, Pre-K funding in the state had not seen an increase in funding since the program's inception in 2003.
In 2017, Governor Hutchinson committed an additional $3 million a year to improve the quality of pre-kindergarten programs in the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program. Governor Hutchinson is recommending new grant programs to improve and reward teacher quality and encourage and enhance innovation.
Currently, Arkansas ranks 12th nationally in the percent of 4 year-olds enrolled in state-funded Pre-K, 3rd in the percent of 3 year-olds enrolled in state-funded Pre-K, and 22nd in the amount of per pupil funding. Additionally, Arkansas' Pre-K program meets 9 out of the 10 benchmarks measuring Quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Since January 2015, Governor Hutchinson and the AEDC have signed incentive agreements with 310 new and expanding companies, resulting in:
On Governor Hutchinson's first full day in office, he made recruiting calls to top executives of six out-of-state companies, as promised.
Governor Hutchinson has participated in several trade missions throughout his tenure as governor. Those trade missions include: China, Japan, Cuba, Germany, England, France, Israel and Mexico.
Trade missions have proven to be very fruitful for Arkansas residents.
Ex: China = 2 years → 5 companies → 1,650 jobs → $1.4B investments:
Ex: Cuba → 3-day trip credited with helping to open the market to Arkansas poultry. Arkansas is the second largest chicken-producing state in the U.S.
In 2015, after the Governor's trip the Cuban government ordered 4,500 tons of poultry from Arkansas companies—Tyson Food and Simmons Food
Prison Expansion and Public Safety Plan:
As promised, Governor Hutchinson addressed prison overcrowding and reentry programs through his Prison Expansion and Public Safety Plan in 2015.
This plan included a three-pronged approach to criminal offenses:
Crisis Stabilization Units:
Act 423, which established the CSU pilot program, was signed into law on March 8, 2017 and was a major part of the Governor's legislative agenda and initiative, passed by the legislature in 2017.
Originally, only three CSUs were to be awarded statewide. However, in August, after a competitive application process, the Governor committed an additional $1.4M million from the state's Rainy Day Fund to support a fourth CSU, in addition to the $5 million already committed to this project.
CSUs have the potential to improve outcomes for people with acute behavioral health conditions and reduce overall system costs to both the state and counties, including the strain on our county jails.Foster Care/Prison Reentry
Biennial Hope Summit:
In 2015 and 2017, the Governor hosted his Restore Hope Summit in Little Rock with the aim of engaging the faith community across Arkansas in caring for kids in the state foster care system and individuals who are re-entering society from prison.
The governor's call to engage business and faith leaders cuts across differences in religion, politics, and geography, and recognizes that communities offer personal relationships, accountability, and a hope of a greater future.
Since 2016, the Governor has:
Since 2015, the Governor has:
Developed and implemented re-entry programs for inmates re-entering society. That includes:
Since 2015, we have increased full-time employment among former inmates:
Governor Hutchinson knew that Medicaid, including the optional Medicaid expansion for adults under the ACA, was in need of reform. It was too expensive and was growing too fast.
This is why the Governor, his staff and DHS worked hard to reform the program, including substantive and conservative reforms to the Private Option, now known as Arkansas Works.
Some of those reforms included:
The actions by the Governor and his Administration clearly demonstrated their commitment to getting Medicaid on a sustainable path and they will continue identifying and advancing reforms to achieve that end.
In December of 2017, the Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that it had spent much of 2017 using new technology and access to data to improve the accuracy of the state's Medicaid rolls, resulting in more than 80,000 individuals being removed from the program. The breakdown is as follows:
In addition, DHS also will roll out additional efforts to strengthen Medicaid in 2018, including Electronic Visit Verification, which gives DHS the ability to make sure that aides who are supposed to be providing home health and personal care services to Medicaid beneficiaries are really providing those services.
Progress on the Developmentally Disabled Waitlist
In 2017, the Governor announced a plan to repurpose Tobacco Settlement Funds to decrease the Community and Employment Supports Waiver waitlist (also referred to as the Developmental Disability Waitlist), a list that hasn't seen any movement in nearly a decade.
The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA), under the direction of Governor Hutchinson have:
This year, Governor Hutchinson proposed the Military Retired Pay Tax Relief initiative to recruit new military retirees to the state by exempting military retirement and survivor benefits from the state income tax. (For more information, see "2017: $13 Million Retired Military Tax Cut" under "Tax Cuts" section.)
Eliminating the dual holiday status of MLK-Lee Day:
On March 21, 2017, Governor Hutchinson signed into law Senate Bill 519, eliminating the dual holiday status and concurrent commemoration of General Robert E. Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King.
With his signature, the Dr. King holiday will continue to be celebrated on the third Monday in January, while General Lee's day of recognition will be moved to the second Saturday of October.
Senate Bill 519 will also provide, for the first time in Arkansas, a statewide policy of teaching our children about the Civil War.
In addition, with this bill the state will coordinate instruction about civil rights leaders and Martin Luther King-specific teaching materials with the holiday that bears his name.
Statement on Furthering Second Amendment Rights:
"For Arkansans, the right to bear arms is one of our most cherished values, and I will always defend that right from those who wish to diminish it. It is a constitutional right for self-defense and an important part of our sporting heritage. My record of support for Second Amendment rights speaks for itself, and I am proud of that fact.
"When the Second Amendment was under its greatest attack, following the tragedy in Connecticut, I stood firm and defended the Second Amendment—spending months heading the NRA's National School Shield initiative to find ways to better protect our schools and our children.
"As Governor, Second Amendment rights in Arkansas have been strengthened. Arkansans are able to carry in more places than ever before, and I will continue to fight for your right to keep and bear arms—guaranteed to all of us by the U.S. Constitution."
*** Open Carry (Act 746) *** – Governor Hutchinson believes that the law passed in 2013 by the Arkansas General Assembly is clear: carrying a weapon without the intent to commit a crime is legal. Governor Hutchinson supports open carry.
Standing Up to Washington Bathroom Guidance:
Governor Hutchinson was the first Governor to push back on the U.S. Department of Education's "guidance" to the states on transgender bathrooms, saying at the time:
"The recent letter from the federal government providing guidance to Arkansas schools on gender identification is offensive, intrusive and totally lacking in common sense. There is no recognizable problem in Arkansas on this issue. The federal government is stirring the pot and meddling in the local control and administration of our schools.
"As Governor, I recommend that local school districts disregard the latest attempt at social engineering by the federal government and continue to use common sense to ensure a safe and healthy environment in Arkansas schools. While the letter implies federal money could be withheld, the letter is nothing more than guidance and is not legally binding."
Since that time, the Governor has consistently stated that there is no need for this type of legislation in Arkansas because there are no examples of it being a problem. School Districts are in the best position to handle these instances on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, since taking office, President Trump has rescinded former President Obama's guidance making any proposed legislation unnecessary.
The Governor's stance was supported by a majority of the Arkansas General Assembly.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act (2015):
In 2015, Governor Hutchinson worked with the legislature to sign a religious freedom bill, making Arkansas' religious freedom bill one of the strongest in the nation. In fact, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative organization that is seen as a leader on this effort across the nation, said:
"Government should protect people's freedom to follow their beliefs in their lives and work. We commend the governor's decision to support a law that does this. Government shouldn't be able to punish Americans for exercising basic civil rights. Religious freedom laws ensure that freedom gets a fair hearing, and they limit the government's power to intrude on our liberties. We hope other states join Arkansas and many others in adopting similar laws."
Protecting the Sanctity of Life:
Governor Hutchinson ended the state's Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood in 2015, after videos surfaced revealing unethical practices by Planned Parenthood employees.
2015 Statement: "It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them. This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma."
2017 Statement after the most recent ruling by the 8th Circuit: "It is important for the state to have the clear authority to terminate Medicaid providers who act in unethical ways and in violation of state policy," Hutchinson said. "The decision early on to terminate Planned Parenthood as a provider was the right decision, and I am delighted with the decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in affirming the right of the State to take this action."
2015 General Session, Governor Hutchinson signed six anti-abortion bills into law.
2017 General Session, Governor Hutchinson signed several more anti-abortion bills into law, including the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act of 2017 (ACT 45)
Governor Hutchinson is the first sitting Governor since 2006 to regularly attend the Arkansas March for Life Rally in Little Rock.