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A Legislator’s Year-in-Review

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January 8, 2012 by Justin Harris

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As you have heard it said before, this was a Historic Year. The largest number of Republicans was voted into the State House and Senate, and 2012 looks to be an even bigger year for gains because of the Conservative Movement. Voters, in the state and in the nation, want to get back to the basics of what our government is supposed to do. I will say, I’m honored to be one of the first Republican Legislators to serve from the city of West Fork.

Of course, along with changes, there were many difficulties. The witness of change has brought a “Changing of the Guard.” This past year has brought on some of the worst political and personal attacks on legislators that have taken place in the State’s history. Being one of them, on the receiving end, we have taken it all in stride. One realizes that it has little to do with them, and it has more to do with the bigger picture of “How will this State be governed in the next decade?”

We are currently headed for an economic crisis in Arkansas, and that is why change must come. The Forestry Department is currently in the hole by $40 million. This came to light last week in a Personnel Meeting in Little Rock. The Commissioner has placed blame on many, including the Governor. The Commissioner is at fault, but the blame also lies with the Governor, who refused to let the Commissioner go public during the 2010 election cycle. Politics as usual — no one wants to hurt his political future or his party’s future.

The scandal is still ongoing, and one must keep looking to news sources for the outcome. Also, the Medicaid dollars in Arkansas are drying up. The Legislative Branch, will look at ways to fix this problem. In a recent committee meeting, I found out that they would be cutting benefits and services to a particular group of people, while creating a job for someone to overlook the program. They were growing government while cutting essential services that would cost the tax payers money in the long term. I fought against this, along with others, and won.

We must not cut constituent services, while allowing cronies who cannot stay within their budgets to continue running these programs. As for this Republican legislator, as I said many times on the campaign trail, we cannot cut services if ​​we aren’t willing to cut administration. In this case it is truly about the children and about you! There will be cuts in budgets, but let’s use common sense and cut the overhead.

In the process, there have been many good things that have come about. We were able to pass $35 million in tax cuts, which I was personally responsible for on the Revenue and Tax Committee. We still ended the year with a $92 million surplus! We were told we couldn’t afford it, but we were told wrong. We were also able to currently stop Obamacare in Arkansas. I believe we should see how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in March to find out it’s Constitutionality. I was also able to pass meaningful sex offender laws that will keep our children safer. There is so much more to be done in the coming year! I will be in Fiscal Session starting in February, which lasts around three weeks.

As always, please feel free to contact me at 479-871-8542 or by email justin.harris@arkansashouse.org.

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