CFC Legislative Update 2/20: Help Us Stop HWY Robbery!

Dear Friend,

Help us take action this weekend to stop the highway robbery legislation, fix our broken prison system and improve our education system.  

Join us this Wednesday for a day of action at the Arkansas Legislature on expanding clean energy, protecting property rights and safeguarding our water, air and other natural resources.  Find details and sign up for our Environmental Advocacy Day here.

The Arkansas Legislature is gaining steam. We are tracking the 984 bills (and counting!) filed so far this session and you can see summaries and our position on high priority bills at the www.citizensfirst.org/bills/ 

Stop the Highway Robbery bill -- HB1346 --

Our best chance to stop HB1346 is on the House Floor where it’s expected to come on Monday afternoon.  The bill would take funds away from K-12 education, juvenile justice, pre-k and child care for our youngest children and other critical services and use it to pay for highways and roads.  Find your legislator here and tell them taking money from quality pre-K and education is an extreme and unacceptable way to fund highways -- vote NO on HB1346. 

Highways are certainly important to Arkansas but there are better alternatives to fund highways and other infrastructure needs in Arkansas that won’t gut important other priorities in the state budget.

Prison Reform -- SB472 --

SB472, the Governor’s prison reform plan, was filed Thursday. The Governor is calling for $50 million of new prison beds. The remaining $14 million the Governor proposes for reentry, parole and alternative sentencing programs falls far short of the cost to fix our system.

We released a statement on the Governor’s proposal and it has some good first steps but it comes far short of the parole, probation and mental health improvements that Arkansas's criminal justice leaders say they need to make our system safer and less expensive.

Call the Governor at 501-682-2345 or email him here and ask him to focus on the safer, longer term and less expensive solutions that this bill leaves massively underfunded. 

Education:

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel joined Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to release their new report on the state’s education system. 

The good news is that the report, “Education in the Post Lake View Era,” shows the state has improved education greatly.  But it also shows Arkansas is not providing an equal opportunity to all of our students. Low income and minority students, who make up more than half of our student body, still lag behind at alarming rates.  The report highlights proven solutions that Arkansas should implement to boost opportunities for ALL students: improved pre-k funding; afterschool and Summer programs; health and nutrition programs; improving teacher quality; reforming discipline policies; and improving parental and community involvement.  See the press conference releasing the report and recommendations here.

Please call the Governor and ask him to prioritize proven education reforms like Pre-k in his budget.