Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson gives final State of the State address
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday reflected on his time in office and set a few final goals for Arkansas. He gave his State of the State address as the legislature began a fiscal session on Monday to consider the governor’s $6 billion budget proposal.
One goal, Hutchinson said, is for the state to increase its presence in the innovative transportation technology industry by forming the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility. The governor said he believes the state could potentially become a leader in such mobility technologies because of the already existing electric vehicle manufacturers and battery component factories.
Hutchinson said, “The advisory council will be charged with identifying state laws and regulations that create a barrier to the development and enhancement of electrification, autonomous vehicles, drone delivery, and advanced air mobility in our state.”
The council will assess federal funding and workforce training and then make recommendations before the next legislative session.
He also wanted to thank city and county-level law enforcement officers in the state by providing them a one-time $5,000 payment that will be effective on June 30, with the total cost to the state being around $45 million.
“This will be a one-time payment from our surplus,” Hutchinson said. “It is designed to reward and incentivize those dedicated officers to keep our streets safe and our homes protected,” Hutchinson said.
Reflecting on the biggest accomplishments during his seven years in office, Hutchinson highlighted the state’s low unemployment rate.
“We know we have the lowest unemployment rate at 3.1%, in the history of Arkansas and a record number of Arkansans working, which is even more important.”
According to Hutchinson, 81,000 more people are employed now than in 2015, when Hutchinson became governor. He also noted efforts to cut income taxes, raise funding for highway projects and streamline state government.
But Hutchinson's support for expanding a state prison by nearly 500 beds drew opposition from audience members in the gallery who interrupted his speech with chants of “no new cages.” Two groups had said they would demonstrate on the steps of the Capitol calling for alternatives to prisons.
“Let me emphasize that this need for a new facility is not a reflection of a change in incarceration policy,” Hutchinson said, “It is simply the fact that we have a growing state.”