In terms of public service, Ms. Furrer firmly believes in the state’s motto, “Regnat populus,” which is Latin for “The People Rule” and, as an Independent candidate, she will work tirelessly to represent the people of District 31 in order to make Arkansas a better place to live and work. Her main priorities will be:
Every parent wants their child(ren) to receive a quality education and in a safe environment. It is important that our state’s teachers receive the support and compensation they deserve as they strive to help each child maximize their potential and become productive members of society. This is particularly important because prospective companies actively seek to locate in communities that value education and offer a wide range of options including pre-kindergarten, K-12 public schools, charter schools, private schools, colleges, universities and vocational technical schools aimed at skill development and workforce readiness. Clearly, there is much that needs to be done in the central Arkansas area to resolve the problems that we have faced for years and to better educate and prepare our children and youth for life and careers in the 21st century.
According to the Tax Foundation, Arkansas has the 3rd highest combined state and local sales tax rates in the nation. However, it is time for the Arkansas Legislature to consider giving Arkansans a break and let’s start by reducing or finally eliminating the sales tax on groceries which would benefit all Arkansas families. Currently, the state’s treasury has amassed vast sums of revenue as a result of our country’s strong economy, low unemployment rates, and other recently enacted legislation. Some of the changes generating additional tax revenue include the collection of taxes on out-of-state Internet purchases, gambling at casinos, medical marijuana sales, gasoline and diesel fuels, as well as, increased registration fees for owners of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Arkansas voters will also have the opportunity to vote AGAINST Issue 1, a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that would permanently extend a temporary half-percent (0.50%) sales tax passed in 2012 for roads and highways. This “temporary” tax, enacted for a 10-year period, currently has an expiration date, if voters decide to keep it.
So much more can be done to help employers and employees reduce their tax burden and create savings by taking advantage of existing laws and through legislative changes.
HEALTHCARE and PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES
Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This expression means it is better to try to avoid problems in the first place, rather than having to pay the price to fix them once they arise. ARkids First and Arkansas Works are two programs that provide much needed health care services to children and families with low income through the Arkansas Medicaid program. Other programs, such as Independent Choices and the DDS Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver Program, are two programs that provide vital services to older Arkansans and individuals with disabilities which allows them the freedom to live where they want to live rather than in a nursing home or an institution. Yet, such programs are often underfunded or there are waiting lists which adversely impact families. We, as Arkansans, can do better.
Currently over 37% of Arkansas adults and 16% of Arkansas children are obese and, if left unchanged, could lead to serious, and costly, health problems. It may be hard to change the habits of adults, but we may be able to save the next generation and reduce health care costs if children, beginning in elementary schools, were taught about the importance of healthy eating, nutrition, regular exercise and good dental hygiene. And, isn’t it about time that UAMS creates a dental school? Currently over 60% of our state’s dentists are located within ten Arkansas counties and many Arkansas residents don’t have access to dental care. Lack of access to dental care can lead to serious health problems, such as cancer or heart disease, and can hurt an individual’s chances of getting hired.
Then, there are other public health issues such opioid addiction, alcohol and other substance abuse, mental illness, and vaping to name a few. According to the American Action Forum, opioid use disorder alone took over 43,000 workers out of Arkansas’s labor force between 1999-2015, and 574 million work hours were lost to substance use disorder during the same time period. As Arkansans, we can and must do better.
REDUCE WASTEFUL GOVERNMENT SPENDING
It takes a former state employee to really understand how much wasteful spending exists in state government. For example, how many out-of-state consultants or studies does our state really need? Does Arkansas really need to contract with out-of-state, for-profit companies to manage our Youth Service Centers and treatment facilities. Does the Arkansas Department of Corrections need to enter into costly, long-term contracts with out-of-state, for-profit prison companies? Should corrupt politicians with felony convictions be permitted to draw state pension benefits for life?
District 31 is a very diverse area comprised of both urban and rural areas. Many rural residents who depend on well water may desire for Central Arkansas Water to extend public water lines, which include the installation of fire hydrants, to their area. Also, high speed internet service is needed in parts of this district, as well as other rural areas of our state, and would aid in attracting new businesses.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
Global warming is not a hoax. It is a stark reality that our state, and nation, can no longer ignore. According to NOAA, the year 2019 was the 3nd hottest year ever recorded (behind 2015 and 2016) and our state experienced record amounts of rainfall and flooding which caused devastating losses to homes and property. The flooding also damaged numerous levees throughout the state which will be costly to repair and maintain.
We don’t know what the future holds but other states are taking the initiative to develop short and long-range plans now to preserve and protect the environment and better utilize alternate energy sources. Arkansas needs to do the same.