French Hill’s empty promises and more.
Tweet of the week
“I sponsored a balanced budget amendment in the House. We need a balanced budget ASAP! We do not need the higher taxes and greater spending of the DC Democrats who support my opponent. #arpx #AR02” — U.S. Rep. French Hill (@ElectFrench) talking about a balanced budget after championing a tax cut that has added a trillion dollars to the deficit and heaped comfort on the ultra-rich.
Governor Hutchinson has announced his plan to reduce the number of Cabinet-level state agencies from 42 to 15.
He said the plan would improve delivery of services and save money as well as time for people who deal with the agencies. He offered a number of general examples of combinations, but lacking are lines of authority in the agencies he proposes to create. In short, who’ll be the new boss of bosses?
Asked to estimate cost savings, he wouldn’t offer a figure.
Ideas include a number certain to produce some comment:
EDUCATION: He’d combine the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education into “one Cabinet group.” Colleges and universities remain independent because the Constitution mandates it.
AGRICULTURE: He’d combine the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources agency, the latter of which deals with soil and water conservation.
HEALTH: He’d put the Department of Health and 15 health-related boards and commissions in one agency.
REGULATION: He said he’d bring 200 boards and commission into one “umbrella agency,” but said regulatory agencies would retain rulemaking authority and special revenue.
HOMELAND SECURITY: All law enforcement and protection agencies will be together.
ENERGY: The Public Service Commission, Department of Environmental Quality and the Oil and Gas Commission would be together.
INSPECTOR GENERAL: Internal audit at Finance and Administration and the Medicaid inspector general would come together. The Fair Housing Commission would be placed there, too.
JUSTICE SYSTEM: As previously announced, the Department of Correction and Community Correction would be merged.
TRANSPORTATION AND MORE: The Department of Transportation and Shared Services would include the Office of Personnel Management, Division of Procurement, Employee Benefits Division, the Division of Building Authority, the Department of Information Systems and Geographic Information Systems.
COMMERCE: It would combine the Economic Development, Workforce Services, Insurance, Banking and Finance departments.
TOURISM: Parks and Tourism and the Department of Heritage would be combined under the plan. But dropped was an idea to merge them with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (Hutchinson confirmed the idea was discussed). The State Library and Capitol Zoning District Commission would go under tourism as well.
Hutchinson envisions that combinations will produce savings in office rents and shared services. He promises more responsive management. Some past combinations have produced complaints about the opposite result — more difficulty navigating large bureaucracies.
The governor said the changes would be made without additional positions. Will it include any pay increases for lead agency bosses? He also said no one would lose jobs, though some positions may be cut through attrition.
Much, if not all of this, requires legislative approval. That approval also will require easing concerns of the constituencies of each of these agencies. For now, the governor can campaign on a promise to make government leaner, cheaper and easier to use. Hutchinson’s Democratic opponent, Jared Henderson, commented: “Arkansans deserve bold leadership that solves our problems, not rearranges them. It’s clear Gov. Hutchinson is still stuck in the 40-year-old political debate of bigger government versus smaller government rather than tackling our state’s most critical problems.”
Teacher of the year
Stacey McAdoo, communications and Advancement Via Individual Determination teacher at Little Rock Central High School, has been named the Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
A news release announcing the selection said McAdoo incorporates rap and slam poetry in the classroom among other ways to encourage creativity. A graduate of Hall High School and UA Little Rock, she has a master’s degree from UA Monticello. She’s been teaching for 16 years.
She’d already won $2,000 as a semifinalist. As teacher of the year, she’ll get a year’s paid sabbatical and a $14,000 award. She’ll be a contestant for national honors, as well.