Challenger to governor visits county
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jan Morgan visited Berryville on Wednesday, Jan. 10, and met with the publisher and managing editor of the Carroll County News to discuss her campaign platform.
Morgan, who describes herself as a “constitutional conservative,” said she views taxes and crime as the most important issues currently facing Arkansans.
If she’s elected, Morgan said, she will work to reduce regulations on businesses that she said make it difficult for Arkansas to compete with surrounding states.
“That sucking sound you hear out of Arkansas is us losing that business and industry to competition,” she said.
Morgan said she also wants to reduce corporate taxes and eliminate the state income tax, which she would have to be done gradually. She pointed to states such as Texas, Tennessee and Florida that don’t have a state income tax as evidence that it can be achieved.
“It’s not reinventing the wheel,” she said.
On the subject of crime, Morgan referred what she described as the “revolving door” of the state prison system and said law enforcement agencies are struggling with unfunded mandates from state government.
Morgan referred to the recent release of a “two-time murderer” from state prison — apparently a reference to Timothy Howard of Ashdown, who was released on parole in November. Howard originally was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the 1997 killings of a husband and wife and the attempted murder of their son. The conviction was overturned on appeal and he was convicted in May 2015 on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, making him eligible for parole.
“He will murder again,” Morgan said.
If she is elected, Morgan said, she will push for tougher sentences for violent offenders who she said often serve less prison time than people convicted of non-violent crimes.
Another issue that Morgan highlighted during the discussion was education. Morgan opposes the Common Core curriculum and is an advocate of school choice.
“Our kids are bound by a ZIP code, and if your school is a low-performing school, you shouldn’t be strapped to that school. I just want parents to have that option,” she said.
Morgan stopped short of endorsing school vouchers — a system that would provide parents with subsidies to enroll their children in private schools — saying she believes competition for students would improve the overall education system.
“It’s a matter of putting more freedom back in the hands of the parents,” she said.
Morgan has been sharply critical of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and she pulled no punches during her visit to Berryville, describing Hutchinson as an “establishment progressive” whose primary goal as governor is “padding his resume to run for president.”
Morgan said Hutchinson’s fiscal policies run counter to the traditional Republican philosophies of conservatism and smaller government.
“If you’re gonna run as a Republican, then lead like one,” she said.
Morgan noted that Hutchinson’s proposed budget of $5.63 billion for the next fiscal year includes a $173 million spending increase over the current state budget.
“If you look at his budget, he isn’t shrinking the pie,” Morgan said. “He’s not shrinking our government; he’s growing it. He’s not who he says he is.”
Morgan also said Arkansas business owners have expressed “a lot of outrage” over Hutchinson’s overtures to foreign interests. Hutchinson has made three trips to China during his tenure as governor. While Hutchinson says those visits have resulted in $1.4 billion in foreign investment in the state and the creation of more than 1,500 jobs, Morgan said the real impact has been detrimental to Arkansas business owners.
“They are sick of watching him go to China and give them millions and millions of dollars in financial incentives to compete against our own businesses,” she said.
Morgan, who served as a national spokeswoman for the Citizens For Trump campaign, said she has been described as a “Mini Trump.” She said that she expects to be elected, and even if she isn’t she believes her campaign has been worthwhile.
“We’ve made significant progress shining a light on what’s happening with our state government,” she said.