Representative Butch Wilkins' Speech at the State Farm Forum called "Measure the Candidate," April 21, 2012
Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for the opportunity to address you'll this afternoon. I am glad that all of you are here and am certainly proud of Farm Bureau for their involvement in this program and for KAIT, Jonesboro Sun, and ASU also.
When I ran four years ago – I have served four years in the House of Representatives, representing what was District 74 and what will now be District 59. I made one pledge and I lived by; I lived by it every day, I followed that on every vote I made in the House – that is people first. That is our state motto; and if a politician can't live by that, he really don't need to be down there.
As I look around, I don't see a doom and gloom state. Arkansas is doing very well. We have a conservative, lean budget. We are among the top in a lot of divisions. We are one of four states who had a balanced budget during the last session. All the other states were in the red; we are in the black; and we do that with our good management.
If you look around Jonesboro, you see all the infrastructure that is going on and all the industry that is coming in here; and you are not seeing a picture of doom and gloom. We are hurriedly building the infrastructure for future of Northeast Arkansas. You look at ASU what is going on there; look at new four way highway into Jonesboro that will give us a direct four lane to Highway 30 and 40 which are the lifelines of America for the trucks to come across, and this is an important time in our history.
We must – the next representative from Craighead County or any place in Arkansas - must be able to work with Mike Beebe. We have got to work with Mike Beebe. If we do not work with Mike Beebe, we are not going to get nothing. And if you want to see someone – this country go flat – if you fail to work with that administration because he is the governor. He is the governor for two years; you have got to work with him; you have got to work with the Industrial Development Commission; you have got to work with the Chamber of Commerce; you have got to work with the Mayor of Jonesboro and Craighead County and the entire region. If you can't do that, then I am not sure that you need to be down there.
You need to re-evaluate what you can do and what you can't do because we are at a crossroads in Arkansas. We are tottering on the edge of extremism. When we reach that point, we will get what we asked for. We will be one of the states in the black, in the red I mean. We had a healthy economy; Arkansas has remained pretty steady. It has done because of _______ [I could not understand this word or phrase], and I don't think there is anybody, I mean, Governor Mike Beebe was re-elected by a majority in 75 counties. That is because he is doing an excellent job.
I plan on working for Governor Mike Beebe; I plan on working for the Mayor of Jonesboro; I plan on working with the Chamber of Commerce as I have done in the past and will continue to do in the future in District 59.
I currently have the support of every Mayor in my district. Why do I have that? Because I have worked hard with them; I have got them GIF money, small cities need help with the state legislature. They have no tax base basically, and it is very important that we in the legislature support them small cities, bring in GIF money when that money is available and support those small cities. I have voted for over $200 million worth of tax breaks since I have been in the House of Representatives. I will continue that. I want to give a tax break to __________[I could not understand this word]. He said he is still having a hard time.
If we vote to do away with the grocery tax - which is very possible next time; I am not going to stand here and promise you that because we've got meetings that we are going to have to decide how we are going spend our tax money coming the first of July because that is a problem we are going to have to deal with. For the last session, if you remember, we had an unemployment problem that we had to deal with, and we have dealt with it in a very positive manner.
I see the time keeper getting up so I think I am about done here. I appreciate you'll being here. I have really enjoyed being your state representative for the last four years, and I hope it continues for the next session. Thank you.
Posted May 17, 2012
Transcribed by Debbie Pelley