Transcript of Senator Robert Thompson's (District #20) Speech
State Farm Forum Measure the Candidate, April 21, 2012
[Note: You may not recognize these district numbers; they are new ones due to redistricting.]
Good afternoon. My name is Robert Thompson. I am privileged to represent part of Northeast Arkansas in the Arkansas State Senate, and I want to ask you to re-elect me to the Arkansas State Senate so I can continue working hard for working families in Arkansas. I have three priorities as your Arkansas State Senator.
My number one priority is economic development and growth of jobs in the state. I have been honored to serve with Governor Mike Beebe in promoting economic development in the expansion of manufacturing jobs over the past six years in the state and also expansion of jobs in the field of agriculture. One of my proudest moments as an Arkansas State Senator was in the 2007 legislative session to be co-sponsor and to work with Farm Bureau hand in hand to sponsor the first biofuel promotion bill in the state.
My second priority will be the promotion of public education in Arkansas which is vitally important. K-12 public education is the backbone of growth in the state because without an educated workforce we simply cannot continue. And if you want to see the fruits of a labor of the expansion of education in Arkansas, get out here on highway 49 and drive north for sixty miles. Go past the Brookland School District, go past the new building at Green County Tech, go past Paragould High School, go past Marmaduke High School, Rector, and Piggott. All of those have seen the benefits of the program that we passed for the expansion of school facilities in the state in the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions. We are now ranked number six in education policy in the state. Folks, that's no accident. It is hard work and it is the focus on education that will reap benefit for years in the future.
My third priority will be government efficiency. There is misconception that you hear from time to time, and I want to correct it. People think we have a balanced budget amendment to our state constitution. We don't. There is no amendment to our constitution that says we have to balance the budget; but we do. You know how. We just do it. We just balance our budget every year. We just pass a law that prioritizes spending. We look at how much money we bring in, and we don't spend any more than that.
We don't have to have a Constitution to tell us to do that because it is the right thing to do and that is what we do. Forty-nine other states have laws or constitutional amendments that tell them to do that. But over the past four years only 46 states have actually done that. Arkansas is one of the four that has kept a balanced budget without laying off a single teacher, without firing a single firefighter, without letting go a single state trooper. And we have done that in Arkansas because of careful budgeting and careful prioritizing of what we are doing in the state.
I want to finish with two stories. I want to let you know that state government matters in this state, and it does matter who you elect. When I was first elected to the legislature, a project that I have continued to focus is the drug courts. Drug courts are a way to get people out of the criminal justice system and back on their feet.
I was at a grocery store the other day and there was a lady standing behind me in line, and she tapped me on my shoulder, and I turned around, and she gave me a big hug. I was kind of surprised. I am sorry, Maam what is going on. She said you are the drug court guy aren't you? I said well I was proud to get Greene County's first drug court. She said I want to tell you something. You saved my life. I am back home with my kids right now because I was able to go through drug court, break the pattern of addiction, and get back on my feet.
One more story. There is a lady who works at the hospital Arkansas Methodist Medical named Robin Patton. She is a social worker. She came to me in the last legislative session. She said, Robert, we've got a problem. I have seen women, pregnant women, coming into our ER again and again and they have had the soup knocked out of them; they are beat up, and we have got to do something about it. So Robin and I sat down; we sat down with a group of social workers; we sat down with the hospital association in Arkansas, and we crafted a bill that would allow hospitals to reach out to battered women and to reach out to law enforcement to protect men and women in this state.
We passed the bill with the support of the hospital association and with the support of the social workers. Robin came to me a couple weeks ago, and she said I want to let you know that that bill saved a woman's life the other day. There was a woman that came in; she had no where to go and because of that bill I was able to contact the law enforcement and get her some help.
So I want you to remember that it matters who you elect. We can have an effective state government in this state and we do have an effective state government; and I would appreciate your vote to help me keep working hard for working families in Arkansas.