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College student leaders release state policy recommendations

Extending legislative term limits, encouraging regional collaboration in economic development, passing a sales tax increase for higher education and expanding the “Natural State” branding campaign to promote healthy lifestyles are among the state policy recommendations issued Saturday by student leaders from roughly 40 Arkansas colleges and universities.
LITTLE ROCK – Extending legislative term limits, encouraging regional collaboration in economic development, passing a sales tax increase for higher education and expanding the “Natural State” branding campaign to promote healthy lifestyles are among the state policy recommendations issued Saturday by student leaders from roughly 40 Arkansas colleges and universities.

The students released their recommendations for state policymakers today at the "Arkansas 2032" conference hosted by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The recommendations covered several topics including economic development, public health, race relations, the aging population, K-12 public education and higher education. They will be forwarded to state elected officials and community leaders. Click here for a list of all of the recommendations.

Among the recommendations are:

-       Extend state legislative term limits to 20 years collectively between both the House of Representatives and the Senate
-       Pass a half-cent sales tax increase designated specifically to higher education to supplement, not supplant, existing revenues
-       Develop a uniform distance-learning model that incorporates all Arkansas higher education institutions
-       Ensure entrepreneurs are able to obtain financing, including development of more micro-finance opportunities
-       Reduce dependence on standardized testing scores for learning assessment
-       Identify coalitions to help bridge regional gaps that currently exist within the state and adapt strategies to encourage more regional collaboration
-       Implement financial literacy curricula in the public school system (K-12)
-       Expand the Natural State advertising brand to include health promotion to increase awareness of existing natural resources for active living
-       Develop a multimedia public advertising campaign to every generational market featuring cultural icons addressing racism
-       Mandate K-12 and higher education campuses to have on-campus diversity professionals and/or department that provide preventative and responsive race relations programming.
-       Better utilize and promote the home health care system to facilitate independent living
-       Create a third party oversight entity that will identify and expose racial disparities in public systems addressing disparities in sentencing in our judicial system, governmental contracts and racial profiling by individuals of authority

The conference brought together student leaders from the state's two- and four-year, public and private colleges and universities, as well as student representatives from UAMS, the University of Arkansas Law School and the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law. The presidents and chancellors of each campus nominated the students to attend the conference.

“This whole process has been in the hands of the students,” said Clinton School student Nate Looney, organizer of the event. “Based on their input, the topics of discussion were chosen for each day. This is important because the students are not only charged with talking through these issues, but we want them to collectively come up with recommendations that will positively impact the direction of our state. For this to work, the students had to be in complete control of the process.”

The Clinton School provided background research on each issue to prepare students to discuss these topics. In addition, experts from across the state participated in panel discussions for the students. The panelists included current elected officials, community and business leaders, and leaders in higher education.

Arkansas 2032 is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the Department of Heritage. In addition, private gifts were made by Verizon Wireless, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, the McLarty family and the Entergy Charitable Foundation
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