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Weekly Address

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The First Full Week

Our first full week in office was a busy one, but we have already done a lot:

• The week started with the annual Right to Life March on Sunday. I attended my first march 28 years ago when I was a newcomer to politics. And I noticed that no other candidates or officeholders were present then. This past Sunday, it was a different scene. Our congressmen attended.  Members of the Legislature attended. And our constitutional officers attended. It's evident that times have changed. Attitudes have changed. And more and more of us are on the right side of life.

• On Monday, we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King at the Benton Event Center. We commemorate the legacy of Dr. King, as we should, with a national holiday — not a day off but a day of action.  I hope you recognized his day by doing something for your community or just to help a neighbor or someone in need.

 • I was pleased this week that our plan to reduce income taxes for the middle class passed overwhelmingly in the state Senate. This is a good first step in reducing Arkansas's income tax rates and making us more competitive with surrounding states. For too long, we have been an island of high taxation in our region, notorious for having an income-tax rate as high as any state in the South. In fact, we are sandwiched between two states — Texas and Tennessee — that have NO income tax on wages.  We are working hard to be competitive and to lower our income tax rate. The tax reduction bill now goes before the House.  I hope you will contact your state Representative and urge them to support this tax reduction bill.

• I delivered a major speech on Medicaid reform on Thursday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, outlining my vision for the future of healthcare for those most in need.   In the address, I asked the state Legislature to approve the Private Option this year and continue it until it ends on December 31, 2016.  I also asked the Legislature to create a Health Reform Task Force that will make recommendations for the future. And that includes more flexibility from the federal government and finding an alternative health-coverage model to ensure services for our vulnerable populations.

• We closed the week the right way — with the first big jobs announcement of 2015. The clothing company HanesBrands of Winston Salem, North Carolina, is expanding its facility in Clarksville. It will mean 120 new jobs and a $4.7 million annual boost to the local economy. That's great news. Even better news is that these jobs are returning to the United States from offshore. As companies continue to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., we are committed to making Arkansas a leader in job creation and manufacturing.

We have done a lot, but we are just beginning. 

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