LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders reviewed her first 100 days in office Wednesday.
Sanders spoke in front of the governor’s mansion after being introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs). She began by reminiscing about her earlier time in the mansion when her father Mike Huckabee was Arkansas governor.
“This is still the place where my family has lived longer than any other,” she said.
The governor spoke about five significant accomplishments since she assumed office Jan. 10. She listed the passage of the Arkansas Learns Act, enacting a law limiting social media for minors, criminal justice reforms, tax cuts and promotion of tourism as major acccomplishments.
“I ran to be a change maker, not a caretaker of the status quo,” she said.
The governor said the LEARNS Act raised teacher pay, broadened school choice in the state, and increased the state’s investment in child literacy, pre-K education and career training.
Sanders said the act is already making a difference in the state.
“These changes are already paying off,” she said. “Just this past week, because of Arkansas LEARNS, the state is keeping Marvell-Elaine School District in Phillips County. That district is staying open. That would never have been possible before Arkansas LEARNS.”
Marvell-Elaine entered a transformation contract with the state on April 14 after low-performance scores led to its consideration for consolidation. A transformation contract was part of the LEARNS Act and allows the school to enter into a third-party contract for operations.
Sanders said that signing a bill to restrict social media use for Arkansas residents under 18 was an important accomplishment.
“We all know big tech is abusing our kids’ privacy and wrecking their mental health,” the governor said. “That’s why we passed a law that finally gives parents more control over their kids online. And soon all Arkansans under 18 will need their parents’ permission to get on social media.”
The law is due to go into effect Sept. 1.
The governor also touted changes to the state’s sentencing guidelines and plans for a new prison.
“We raised the minimum amount of time felons spend behind bars before they’re let out on supervision,” she said. “And we will build a new 3,000-bed prison to stem the prison shortage in our state. We will not allow inmates to walk free anymore simply because we are out of space.”
The governor spoke about legislation signed into law last week that lowered the state’s tax rate from 4.9% to 4.5% for people making over $24,300. She also spoke to future tax reduction.
“I’m so proud we are able to continue working on phasing out our state income tax by passing a $150 million tax cut,” she said.
Recent legislation to improve Arkansas as a tourist destination was another accomplishment Sanders spoke about.
“I love that we’re called ‘The Natural State,’ and I want everyone else to know why,” she said. “Tourism is our number-two industry, and we have cut some of the red tape and regulation so it can continue to improve growing our state’s outdoor economy.”
The governor thanked First Gentleman Bryan Sanders for his role in improving outdoor tourism.
The governor closed by speaking about the impact, and especially the response, to the March 31 tornadoes that swept the state. The storm damage led to Cross, Lonoke and Pulaski counties being declared federal disaster areas.
“Even as I surveyed damage in the hours and days after the storm I saw something so incredible, something that gave me hope, something that reminded me why Arkansas is such an incredible and special place,” Sanders said. “I watched Arkansans step up and put their arms around each other, offer the jackets right off their own backs, open their homes, open their doors, and take care of people in need. It’s the proudest I have ever been to be the governor of the state of Arkansas.”
The governor concluded by speaking about her future plans.
“Thank you so much for working with me, helping us to implement this change,” Sanders said in conclusion, “but more importantly, taking care of the people of our state when they needed it the very most. Thank you for your dedication to the state of Arkansas. I can’t wait to see what we get done in the next eight years.