I have so much to cover, including some local stuff, but so little time. However, I want to start by taking just a minute to weigh on some developments that happened in Little Rock yesterday.
In case you haven’t heard, Senator Jason Rapert announced yesterday that he planned to pull SJR 1 or the National Debt Relief Amendment.
Rapert’s campaign tells me that all of the Republicans on the State Agencies Committee were in support of the bill, but they could not get any Democrats to break ranks with their party and move the bill to the floor. There remained one legislative option to advance the bill–forcing a floor vote–but the campaign says the senator has ‘too much respect for the institution’ to enact such a tactic, one that has been compared to the U.S. Senate’s ‘nuclear option.’
In a statement, Rapert said:
Despite a bipartisan group of 47 members supporting SJR 1 in the General Assembly, and growing national support to address the out of control federal debt, we could not overcome the partisan divide of the Senate State Agencies Committee with only a few days left in the fiscal session. SJR 1 has achieved a positive result in that more people are focused on the issue of the national debt, how the debt affects hardworking Arkansas taxpayers, and the constitutional options granted to states by our Founding Fathers.
While NDRA has passed two states, been introduced in Congress, and would have passed the Arkansas Senate had it been brought to the floor, I respect the institution of the Senate and will let this bill run its course through regular order instead of putting the chamber through the painful process of a floor vote to extract it forcibly from committee when we have much bigger issues like the $400 million Medicaid shortfall facing our state.
This is yet another example of the Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise or even consider out-of-the-box solutions to problems we face in the state. This is also a real loss for the taxpayers: this was our best chance to reign in federal spending.
Despite the misinformation/fear-mongering campaign that was waged by Paulbots & Secure Arkansas, SJR 1 called for an amendment convention, not a ‘constitutional convention’ as they were inaccurately saying. As Advance Arkansas Institute and others stated, this would not have been a ‘free for all’ assault on the U.S. Constitution. It would have been a meeting for a specific purpose, limited in scope, and anything that came out of the convention would have had to go before the states for ratification, just like any constitutional amendment.
I’m not sure what these groups accomplished by siding with Democrats in a misinformation campaign against one of Arkansas’s most conservative legislators and a downright constitutional idea to reign in federal spending, but I hope they’re happy. The taxpayers will now suffer the result.
I commend Senator Rapert & his co-sponsors, including Rep. Mark Biviano, for their courage & leadership on this issue. The only way we’re ever going to reign in the federal government is through state-based solutions. I am very thankful we have some members of the state legislature that understand this and are willing to fight to make it happen.
It also shows real leadership that Senator Rapert was willing to drop this issue for now and focus on a more pressing issue for the state at this time, our imminent Medicaid crisis. With constitutional conservative fighters like Senator Rapert, I am confident we can avoid disaster, but it will not–and should not–be through tax increases. It’s going to take cuts. Will Democrats work with Republicans to solve the crisis, or will they continue to refuse to compromise?