From: Bill Kopsky at AR Public Policy Panel [email@example.com] Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 1:49 PM To: CFC Northwest Arkansas Caucus Cc: Board, Staff, Steering Committee Subject: Fighting for our future: with Pizza -- Join us Thursday night for NWA Caucus meeting
Northwest Arkansas friends,
The people of Arkansas need you to be more engaged than ever as we head into a critical election year and the coming Arkansas Legislative session. Please join us this Thursday night at US Pizza on Dickson to talk about the issues you see as most critical to move our state forward. We are in the process of building our agenda for the next legislative session and we need your input. A flier is attached and you can register by firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 501-376-7913 x 10.
The political landscape in Arkansas is shifting beneath our feet. We've watched the average score for an Arkansas House member drop from 77% in 2009 to 52% last session in our vote guide measuring how often they support progressive issues. Consider some of the issues confronting us:
The state budget is a wreck moving forward thanks to tax cuts wildly favoring the rich passed in the last session and sponsored by your own Rep. Charlie Collins. The state can not afford to make needed investments in education, infrastructure, economic development and more because the budget has been hijacked by tax cuts for the wealthy. Nearly every issue you care about is going to be heavily impacted by the tax and budget debate at the legislature.
Climate change denial is in vogue in Arkansas politics and big oil and outside money from the Koch brothers are making a sane and sustainable energy future harder to achieve. The status quo is hurting our economy and not helping it either. We can do better!
Our water is at risk as well. Last session the legislature voted to lower water quality standards across the state -- luckily the law was so bad the EPA interceded to stop its implementation. The new state water plan will need to be implemented in the next session and we need lawmakers who care about science and understand the importance of Arkansas's high water quality.
On civil rights we saw the Dream Act narrowly fail in Senate Committee last session while an unconstitutional vote id law meant to suppress minority, young and elderly voters from participation passed over a Governor's veto.
Despite the challenges there are bright spots.
250,000 working-poor Arkansans now have health care thanks to a 75% bipartisan majority that expanded medicaid through Arkansas' private option by two votes. It needs to be reauthorized again next session. Over 150,000 Arkansas are already insured through the program saving lives and increasing economic opportunity.
Last session we passed several green energy bills, including PACE to make financing energy improvements easier. We still have a long way to go but green energy is a non-partisan winner for our economy as well as our planet.
We also passed 2 key election reform bills that require more poll worker training and double the number of election monitors in the state.
Last session we defeated several assaults on our public education system -- including bills to privatize the system and ones that would have cut school funding in favor of highways. Arkansas has one of the fastest improving education systems in the country thanks to the investments and innovations the state has adopted over the past 10 years -- now is no time to retreat.
There is a growing campaign to raise the state's minimum wage at the ballot box this November -- a proven way to boost the economy and reduce poverty.
Our experience over the years tells us that we are successful when we start our campaigns early. The legislature will start budget hearings for next year as early as this May. We need you to join the conversation now so we are ready to win the reforms we all need next January at the Legislature.
We also know that we are successful when we make our issues come up during elections -- and there are some doozy elections this cycle. We want to get your advice about how to make our issues matter during this year's elections. Of course we'll have our first new Governor in 8 years and there is a US Senate race -- and both of those are locked in 50-50 ties in the polls. There is also the critical election for the Arkansas House of Representative, which currently has a Republican majority of just 1 seat. Many of these races for the AR House will be decided by just a few hundred votes. We want to make sure that candidates of all parties in these races have to talk with their constituents about the issues that will move Arkansas forward.
Please join us this Thursday night at US Pizza from 6-9pm to build a common agenda for a better Arkansas -- and help us spread the word.
We appreciate your leadership. Thanks
ps1: Also mark your calendars for the CFC pre-convention on April 26th in Little Rock and the full agenda-setting CFC Convention June 20-22 at the 4-H Center in Ferndale.