Arkansas 2014 Election
6:14 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

Arkansas Dems Vying For Governor Both Tout Education

Both Democratic Candidates for Governor in Arkansas say the private option of Medicaid expansion was the best deal available to the state but disagree on the bulk of the federal health care overhaul.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross spoke to members of the Delta Grass Roots Caucus Friday at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

Halter called out his Democratic opponent on his vote against the federal health care law saying that Ross now praises the private option of Medicaid expansion developed during the recent legislative session.

Speaking to reporters afterward he said if the other three candidates for Governor had their way, there would be no plan to insure thousands of low-income Arkansans.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter told reporters Friday that his opponent for the Democratic nomination for Governor, former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross is switching his position on federal health care overhaul after Ross praised the private option of Medicaid expansion approved by the Arkansas legislature.
Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter told reporters Friday that his opponent for the Democratic nomination for Governor, former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross is switching his position on federal health care overhaul after Ross praised the private option of Medicaid expansion approved by the Arkansas legislature.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

“Congressman Ross voted against the health care reform bill, then after it was law he voted to repeal it,” Halter said. “So, these things followed in sequence. If you did not have the health care reform bill provided, you wouldn’t have had a private option.”

Ross answered to reporters later that he’s always said there were good parts and bad to the federal health care overhaul.

“I’ve always said that the Medicaid expansion was a good part, Governor Beebe at the time of the vote in 2009 had said that if he had been in congress he would have voted against the health care bill, we wouldn’t have had the private option today without his leadership, I support the private option just as Governor Beebe did,” Ross said.

Halter also said Ross was against the scholarship lottery and is now for it. Ross said more scholarships are good, but the lottery has challenges and hasn’t yet reached its revenue goals.

Halter worked to create the scholarship lottery program while serving as Lieutenant Governor.

Both candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor also said they want to improve education in the state should they be elected.

Ross says he wants to improve early childhood education while Halter wants to fund more college scholarships. Ross questioned the feasibility of Halter’s scholarship plan, which is called the Arkansas Promise.

Democrat Mike Ross at the Clinton Library
Former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross told reporters Friday that he supports the private option of Medicaid expansion because he sees it as the best way to implement the Affordable Care Act for the state, which he voted against. He also expressed doubt regarding the feasibility of the state being able to fund his opponent's plan to provide more college scholarships.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, and this isn’t Washington, and we can’t print money, and we can’t spend more than we take in, and my number one priority as Governor is going to be ensuring we have a balanced budget,” Ross said.

Halter told reporters with growth in state revenue, room could be found in the budget to fund additional scholarships.

“There are resources there, but ultimately budgets are always about choices and what I’m saying is that the Arkansas Promise is one of the highest return investments that we could make and I’m going to push for it,” Halter said.