LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed members of the Arkansas General Assembly, sharing her vision for the state, after taking her oath of office Tuesday morning at the state capitol. Covering expected themes, it established the same priorities that were at the fore during her campaign: Jobs, safe streets and education reforms focusing on choice.
Sanders called her inauguration a new day for the state.
“As we gather in these storied chambers at the dawn of a new day, a turning point in the history of Arkansas will usher in a new era of good jobs, great schools, safer streets and stronger families,” Sanders said.
The Arkansas governor told the legislature that she expects to “give the people of Arkansas the pay raise they deserve,” and “cut taxes and bring jobs to Arkansas,” an announcement greeted with applause from the floor.
The long-term goal was to cut out the Arkansas income tax. Sanders indicated this would happen by cutting government spending and shrinking the size of the government.
“Let’s not surrender the competition for jobs to other states – let’s cut taxes and bring jobs right here to Arkansas. And let’s also cut wasteful spending so we can continue to phase out the income tax altogether,” Sanders said.
As with taxes, Sanders invited the legislature to act.
“I ask you to send me legislation that expands pre-K, improves literacy, and gives students real-world skills they need to succeed in the workplace,” she said.
Easily the biggest applause line of Sanders’ speech was calling for parents to play a greater role in children’s education through school choice.
“Parents cannot be an afterthought in education. Parents are the foundation of a child’s success. So let’s give parents a greater role in education, including the right to choose the school that’s best for their child – whether it is public, private or parochial,” to loud and sustained applause.
She added, “When we give parents a choice, we give children a chance,” as the applause tapered off.
The formula the governor outlined was more prison space and more police to end what she called a “crime wave. “
“Together, we will build the prison space we need to keep our citizens safe. We will put more of our courageous cops on the street. We will shut down the crime wave that has plagued our cities,” Sanders said.
She continued by calling for a change in the perception of police.
“And we will teach our children that the badge is a symbol of justice, the police are a force for good, and our officers are heroes who are worthy of our highest respect,” she said.
In concluding the speech, Sander made a call for improvements in adoption and foster care, defending free speech and the right to bear arms and raising teacher pay.
“If you send me legislation promoting adoption or improving foster care, I will sign it. If you send me a bill defending the right to free speech, or the right to keep and bear arms, I will sign it. If you send me a bill that rewards our teachers with higher pay, I will sign it,” she said.