“Compromise is the key to accomplishing anything, not just in politics, but in life,” former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker said Saturday night. Tucker, Arkansas governor from 1993-1996, was the keynote speaker at the 12th annual Clinton Day Dinner, a fund-raiser for the Clark County Democratic Party.
Other speakers for the evening included: Gov. Mike Beebe, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, state Rep. Johnnie Roebuck and Bill Gwatney, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party.
Tucker praised Beebe’s efforts as governor, and before that, as attorney general and state senator. “Governing is hard. Mike Beebe has brought 3,700 new jobs to the state since he took office,” Tucker said. Beebe also compromised with lawmakers to cut the state’s grocery tax. Some legislators didn’t want to cut the tax, while others wanted to cut it out entirely. “Mike Beebe reached the compromise and reduced the tax by half,” Tucker said.
Beebe helped set minimums for school millages when Tucker was governor. “I wanted 29 mills,” Tucker said. Beebe told him voters would not approve 29 mills. “Mike suggested 25 mills, and it passed.”
Tucker also praised the recently-completed Clark County Strategic Plan, saying it was a great example of compromise. “This is a form of government,” he said, holding up a copy of the plan. “I congratulate everyone in Clark County just for spending the time talking about what matters to your families.”
Tucker also talked about education reform, praising the legislature for working to help define what is an “adequate” education. Arkansas can do better, he said. “We don’t want an adequate education for our children. We want an outstanding education for everyone.”
Any new programs implemented to help educate Arkansas’ children should be introduced earlier, he said. “If we wait until kids get in the seventh grade, it’s too late.”
He also said education programs are slow to show progress. “No matter what you do, you have to wait for 15 years to see if the plan comes to fruition.”
He urged everyone to work together, to reach compromises that will better the world. “Remember, our common humanity is what draws us together,” he said.
Pryor spoke of congressional accomplishments so far this year. Among them are increased salaries for the military and a new minimum wage law. He also spoke of new funding for education. “There will be $260 million in Pell grants given out to Arkansas students alone this year,” he said.
Congress also approved a budget that will result in a balanced budget in seven years, he said, and approved tax credits and cuts for small businesses.
“Our congressional delegation is working hard in Washington, and we’re working together,” Pryor said.
Beebe complimented the state lawmakers for their work during this year’s legislative session. “I’m very proud of them,” he said. He also complimented those who attended the banquet. “The people in this room represent the backbone that sustains this party in good times and in bad.”
He also urged them to continue to work. “Don’t rest on your laurels.” More work remains, and everyone can contribute, he said.
“No matter what, there is a contribution that can be made. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren.”