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Arkansas Week August 8, 2014

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(12.4 percent) Some health insurance numbers to crow about, and there was some crowing. (GOP) What does it mean for some Republicans in the legislature and on the stump? (AR-GOV) In the race for the statehouse we'll update the rhetoric and perhaps the reality... and have a tea-leaf look at the economy the winner will inherit.

TRANSCRIPT

HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE. THANKS FOR JOINING US FOR "ARKANSAS WEEK". WE BEGIN TONIGHT WITH HEALTH CARE AND OF COURSE THE POLITICS OF SAME. MICHAEL HIBBLEN JOINS US FROM KUAR PUBLIC RADIO FOR INTERNATIONAL ARKANSAS. STEVE BRAWNER AN INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST BASED IN BENTON. ERNIE DUMAS AN INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST AND FOR THE ARKANSAS TIMES. MICHAEL MIDWEEK ANYWAY THE GALLOP POLL REPORTED ON A SEMI-REGULAR SURVEY THAT THE NUMBER OF UNINSUREED IN ARKANSAS POST PRIVATE OPTION, POST OBAMACARE, POST AFFORDABLE CARE ACT REALLY NOSE DIVED, REDUCED BY ALMOST HALF AND IMMEDIATELY THERE WAS REACTION BY THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY.

YEAH, THEY PUT IT IN THAT TIME AND GOVERNOR BEEBE WAS ESPECIALLY PLEASED WITH THIS NEWS. I NEVER BEEN ABLE TO GET GOVERNOR BEEBE ON THE PHONE. IF I DON'T CATCH HIM ON PERSON I DON'T GET HIM ON THE PHONE AND GET HIS SPOKESPERSON AND IN THAT CASE HE'S LIKE "HANG ON I WILL HAND YOU OVER THE GOVERNOR" , THE FIRST TIME IN FIVE YEAR S AND THE GOVERNOR PLEASED AND TELETO 22% TO 12% ALL OF THIS THROUGH THE PRIVATE OPTION. VERY SIGNIFICANT.

BUT DO WE KNOW THAT MICHAEL? ARE WE CERTAIN THAT THE PRIVATE OPTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF THAT REDUCTION? OBVIOUSLY IT'S RESPONSIBLE FOR SOME.

IT'S GOT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR A GOOD CHUNK OF IT. THIS IS A SURVEY. IT'S NOT BASED NECESSARILY ON ALL OF THE DATA COMING IN BUT BASED ON 87,000 PEOPLE NATIONWIDE, BUT CLEARLY THE PROPONENTS OF THE PRIVATE OPTION WERE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS, AND THIS SHOWS THAT THIS IS WORKING, AND BY THAT RATE IT'S ONE IN 10 PEOPLE IN ARKANSAS HAS NOW GOTTEN HEALTH CARE COVERAGE THROUGH THIS.

BUT YOU KNOW IT IS CLEARLY -- THE PRIVATE OPTION -- NOT JUST THE PRIVATE OPTION BUT MEDICAID EXPANSION PLUS THE OTHER MAJOR ELEMENT OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WHICH IS THE THE PRIVATE EXCHANGES BECAUSE YOU HAVE 38,000 PEOPLE WHO ARE ENROLLED IN THE PRIVATE EXCHANGES PLUS 186,000 I THINK ARE THE LATEST FIGURES IN THE MEDICAID EXPANSION SO THAT IS 225,000 PEOPLE TOGETHER, AND IN 2012 I THINK THE SURVEY SHOWED THAT WE HAD ROUGHLY 475,000 OR 475,000 ADULTS ANYWAY UNINSUREED IN ARKANSAS SO THIS CUTS THAT IN HALF SO THAT IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FIGURES BUT IT WAS NOT ONLY GOVERNOR BEEBE BUT THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, DAVY CARTER, A REPUBLICAN. HE MAY HAVE BEEN THERE FIRST. I DON'T KNOW, BUT HE IMMEDIATELY PUT OUT -- THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PUTS OUT A STATEMENT BY DAVY CARTER ALSO BOOSTING ABOUT THIS DRAMATIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE SITUATION FOR ARKANSAS PEOPLE, AND AGAIN HE ATTRIBUTED IT TO THE SO CALLED PRIVATE OPTION WHICH IS OBAMACARE. NEITHER THE GOVERNOR STATEMENT NOR DAVY CARTER'S STATEMENT, A REPUBLICAN AND A DEMOCRAT, NEITHER OF THEM UTTERED THE WORD "OBAMACARE" . NOW BEEBE DID SAY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND DAVY CARTER DID NOT EVEN SAY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. HE JUST SAID IT'S ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE PRIVATE OPTION THAT WE DEVELOPED IN ARKANSAS BUT THE PRIVATE OPTION IS THE MEDICAID EXPANSION UNDER OBAMACARE. THAT'S HALF OF THE BIG FEATURES OF OBAMACARE, BUT NOBODY AT THIS POINT, NOBODY WANTS TO GO OUT AND SAY ANYTHING IN DEFENSE OF OBAMACARE BECAUSE BEEBE NEVER HAS. THE GOVERNOR EVEN THOSE HE'S A DEMOCRAT NEVER SAID A WORD IN DEFENSE OF OBAMACARE OR GENERALLY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, BUT HE HAS IN THE MEDICAID EXPANSION AND THE PRIVATE OPTION SO I THINK IT'S A DRAMATIC DEVELOPMENT.

LET'S STICK WITH THE PURE ECONOMICS OF IT WITH A MOMENT AND THEN GO TO THE POLITICAL IF YOU COULD SEPARATE THE TWO. OBVIOUSLY THE HEALTH CARE ESTABLISHMENT IN ARKANSAS AND EVERYWHERE IS DELIGHTED WITH EVERY NEW HEALTH CARE CONSUMER WHO IS COVERED BECAUSE THEY WERE RACKING UP -- WE HAD HOSPITALS REALLY ON LIFE SUPPORT, PARTICULARLY THE SMALL RURAL HOSPITALS.

IT WAS A WORRY HERE AND THIS IS OLDER NEWS BUT A MONTH AGO THE ARKANSAS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION REVEALS THE RESULTS FROM A SURVEY THAT THE FIRST THREE MONTHS THAT HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS FROM DOWN 30% IN THAT TIME, HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS FROM DOWN 30% AND EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS ARE DOWN 25% FROM A YEAR AGO WHICH SUGGESTS PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THE DOCTOR AND GETTING IT TAKEN CARE OF RATHER THAN GOING TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM AND ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL AND THE HOSPITALS ALTHOUGH THEY WOULD LIKE THE ROOMS FULL BUT THEY'RE PLEASED. FINANCIALLY IT'S STILL A GOOD DEAL FOR THEM AND EVERYONE IS PAYING.

AND NOT JUST THE PRIVATE OPTION AND THE PAYMENT REFORM INITIATIVE AND HOW THEY'RE PAID IN MORE OF EPISODES HOSPITALS AND DOCTORS ARE PAID AS A BUNDLED PAYMENT. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS IS HOW MUCH THIS SHOULD COST TO FIX THIS PROBLEM SO THIS IS HOW MUCH MONEY WE'RE GOING TO GIVE YOU AND IF YOU TREAT THIS PATIENT EFFECTIVELY CHEAPER THAN THAT YOU CAN KEEP SOME OF THE MAYBE AND IF NOT YOU PAY A PENALTY SO THEY HAVE AN INCENTIVE TO TREAT PATIENTS AT A LOWER COST.

BUT THAT IS ALSO PART OF OBAMACARE. IT'S NOT A MANDATED PROGRAM OF OBAMACARE BUT ONE OF THE THREE OR FOUR PILOT PROGRAMS IN OBAMACARE -- LET'S CALL IT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. THIS IS ONE OF THE OPTIONS THAT ENCOURAGED STATES TO EXPERIMENT WITH THESE KINDS OF PAYMENT REFORMS TO SEE WHICH OF THEM WORK. IN ARKANSAS IT WAS THE FIRST TO MOVE INTO THIS PROGRAM, AND IT HAS BEEN AS STEVE SAID APPARENTLY REMARKABLY SUCCESSFUL IN LOWERING COSTS AND ALSO IMPROVING CARE AND FROM THE TESTIMONY OF THE INSURANCE COMPANIES AND ALSO THE MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT.

NOW, TO THE POLITICAL OF IT BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME RAMIFICATIONS HERE. THIS PAST WEEK THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS AND THE MAJORITY IN THE SENATE STEVE CHOSE AS ITS NEXT LEADER THE GENTLEMEN GRAPHIN SENATOR [INAUDIBLE] AND REMAINS A PROPONENT OF THE PRIVATE OPTION, OBAMACARE, OR THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. CALL IT OBAMACARE AND SAVE TWO SYLLABLES I THINK, AND A GOOD MANY MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HOUSE AND SENATE, REPUBLICAN MEMBERS REMAIN ABSOLUTELY OPPOSED TO IT AND SAY SOME -- CONTINUE TO SAY THEY WILL TRY TO DISMEMBER IT IN THE JANUARY SESSION. WE ALSO HAVE A REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE WHO WE CAN'T TELL WHERE HE IS ON THE PRIVATE OPTION YET AND WE HAVE A REPUBLICAN SENATOR NOMINEE WHO IS OPPOSED TO OBAMACARE AND NOW THEY'RE BOTH CONFRONTED WITH 200,000 ARKANSANS THAT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE.

AT THE SAME TIME REPUBLICANS WERE NOMINATING HIM HEADEN AS THE MAJORITY LEADER AND ELECTED THE OTHER SIDE AND I TALKED TO HID RIN AND ANOTHER PRIVATE OPTION OPPONENT BRIAN KING AND ASKED "HOW HAS THIS NEWS CHANGED YOUR OPINION?" AND I GOT TWO RESPONSES. SENATOR HIDRIN I AM AN OPPONENT BUT RECOGNIZE FACTS ON THE GROUND HAS CHANGED AND YOU CAN'T SIMPLY YANK 200,000 PEOPLE AWAY FROM THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE. THERE WILL BE DISCUSSIONS AND HE SAID THAT THIS ISSUE WILL NOT BE WHAT DEFINES US, THIS SESSION. THAT'S WHAT HIS DETERMINATION WAS. NOW SENATOR KING REMAINS A STANCH PROPONENT AND PART OF THAT CAUCUS IN THE LEGISLATURE AND HIS RESPONSE IS YES 200,000 PEOPLE ARE NOW ENROLLED ABOUT THE AT WHAT COST? AND MAYBE THINGS WE CAN'T AFFORD IN THE FUTURE, SO THEY ARE GOING TO LOOK AT THIS, NOT JUST FROM THE COVERAGE BUT COSTS AND AT THIS POINT WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH IT'S GOING TO COST. DAVID SANDERS IS ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS OF THIS TOLD ME THIS WILL RISE AND FALL ON THE POLICY, NOT ON THE POLITICS. IT'S GOT TO SUCCEED IN EVERY WAY, NOT JUST ON COVERAGE BUT ITS ABILITY TO MEET THE GOALS AND CREATE A MORE CONSUMER DRIVEN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN ARKANSAS.

AND YOU MENTIONED THE REPUBLICAN FOR GOVERNOR, ASA HUTCHINSON. HE HASN'T TAKEN A FIRM POSITION SO MUCH ON THE PRIVATE OPTION AND SAID IF ELECTED HE WOULD WAIT AND LOOK AT THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT THAT TIME WHEREAS THE DEMOCRATIC OPPONENT MIKE ROSS THURSDAY HE UNVEILING HIS SENIOR BILL OF RIGHTS" AND THAT THE PRIVATE OPTION WOULD CONTINUE AND AS WE GET THE NEWS AND THE 200,000 COVERAGE WITH THIS IT'S A BIGGER ISSUE AND I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF ASA HUTCHINSON HAS TO TAKE A FIRMER POSITION BEFORE THE ELECTION.

ERNIE.

SEEMS TO ME IF HE HASN'T TAKEN A STAND AND SUGGESTS TO ME HE HAS TO STAY WITH IT AND THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND IF HE IS ELECTED GOVERNOR AND HE VERY WELL MAY BE. HE'S AHEAD IN THE POLLS. I THINK HE WILL ACKNOWLEDGE IT AND YES AND GO ALONG WITH IT AND PASS THE CONTINUATION OF THE PRIVATE OPTION IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. I THINK THAT'S THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL. BY JANUARY 1 -- AT LEAST IN THE MIDDLE OF MARCH WHEN THE LEGISLATURE WILL MAKE THE DECISIONS ABOUT APPROPRIATIONS AND THE REVENUE STABILIZATION ACT WE WILL HAVE IN EXCESS OF 250,000 PEOPLE ENROLLED IN HEALTH INSURANCE, NOT ALL OF IT IN MEDICAID, AND AS STEVE SAID THAT'S A HUGE NUMBER TO BE JERKING THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE AWAY FROM THEM. I DON'T THINK IT WILL HAPPEN AND AS I SAID BEFORE THE SHOW I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO REQUIRE 3/4 VOTE IF THE SPEAKER AND THE PRO TEM OF THE SENATE SAY IT WILL TAKE A SIMPLE MAJORITY WITH THE APPROPRIATIONS AND I THINK IT DOES I DON'T THINK THERE WILL BE MUCH OF A FIGHT OVER IT.

STEVE IS ANYONE TRYING TO CRAFT MR. HEND REN, MR. KING IS THERE A OUTLINE TO THIS?

NOT THAT I HEARD OF AND TALKING TO SENATOR HENDREN AND JUST ELECTED MAJORITY LEADER AND STARTING THE PROCESS FOR THE NEXT SESSION. THEY DON'T KNOW WHO THE SENATORS ARE GOING TO BE AND THE ELECTION AND THE NEXT GOVERNOR AND THERE ARE THINGS TO IRON OUT AND NOT THAT I KNOW OF THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN AT THIS POINT.

I WAS GOING TO POINT OUT ALTHOUGH THE REPUBLICANS OPPOSED TO THE PRIVATE OPTION GOT ELECTED MORE OFTEN THAN THE SUPPORTERS OF THE PRIVATE OPTION IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES. I'M NOT CERTAIN ABOUT THE STATISTICS ON THAT BUT I THINK THAT IS THE CASE, BUT I SHOULD POINT OUT IN LITTLE ROCK THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE IN THAT AREA, STACY HEARST HAS COME OUT OF THE PRIVATE OPTION AND A FIRM SUPPORTER OF THAT SO THE NUMBERS ARE NOT ALL TOGETHER IN THE DEFEAT OF THE PRIVATE OPTION.

AND THE SENATE PRO TEM INCOMING SENATOR [INAUDIBLE] IS ONE OF THE PRIVATE OPTION ARCHITECTS. HE HELPED -- ORIGINALLY HIS FIRST SPARK OF IDEA SO HE'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST SUPPORTERS OF THE PROGRAM.

THIS APPEARS TO ME THE DICHOTOMY THAT THE DEMOCRATS FACE AND THE PRIVATE OPTION AND MAYBE A 200,000 OR A QUARTER MILLION SIGNED UP SOON YOU STILL PUT OBAMACARE IN A PUBLIC OPINION POLL AND IT'S A HUGE THUMBS DOWN AND OBAMA ON THE POLL AND THUMBS DOWN AND THAT IS THE RESPONSE AMONG THE 200,000 WHO NOW ARE THE BENEFICIALS OF IT.

NO DON'T ABOUT IT. THEY THINK ABOUT THAT OBAMACARE AND WE NEED TO REPEAL IT.

THAT'S WHY WHEN THE GOVERNOR TALKS ABOUT IT AND REMIND USINGS AND THIS WAS A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION AND CRAFTED OUR OWN SOLUTION AND THIS WORKS WITH PRIVATE INDUSTRY AND THAT'S WHY HE WANTS TO FRAME IT IN THAT WAY EVERY TIME HE DISCUSSES IT.

STEVE, HOW BIG OF A PROBLEM IF AT ALL IS THIS FOR SAY MR. COTTON AND HIS SENATE RACE BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY HE'S AN OPPONENT OF IT?

I DON'T SEE HOW --

WITH POTENTIALLY 200,000 -- NOT ALL VOTERS TO BE CERTAIN.

I DON'T SEE THAT'S A PROBLEM. I THINK THIS ELECTION IS ABOUT --

YEAH.

AND OBAMA IS THE LABEL THAT YOU HAVE AT THE END OF YOUR NAME, THE CULTURAL ISSUES THAT ARE BECOMING IMPORTANT, THE HOBBY LOBBY DECISION, THINGS GOING ON IN ISRAEL THAT LIGHTS THE FIRE THAN SOME OF THE OTHER ISSUES SO I DON'T SEE THE PRIVATE OPTION BECOMING A BIG ISSUE IN THE SENATE RACE.

ONTO JUST THE RAW NUMBERINGS POLLING WE HAD NEW NUMBERS BY BOTH NOMINEES FOR GOVERNOR.

YEAH, AND THE LATEST POLLS SHOW THAT ASA HUTCHINSON HAS ABOUT A FIVE POINT LEAD AT THIS POINT AND IT'S BEEN FASCINATING LOOKING AT THE POLLING THAT'S COME OUT OVER THE LAST WEEK OR TWO. IN PARTICULAR THE TALK BUSINESS HENDRIX COLLEGE POLLS WHICH HAD A VERY LARGE SAMPLE OF 1800 PEOPLE FOR THE STATE WIDE RACES SHOW THAT THE SENATE RACE IS VERY CLOSE. TOM COTTON HAD A TWO POINT LEAD BUT BETWEEN THING MARGIN OF ERROR AND WHY YOU'RE SEEING THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC GROUP IS BUYING ABOUT 3.5 MILLION DOLLARS OF ADS GOING AGAINST COTTON SO THAT SHOWED THAT RACE IS EXTREMELY TIGHT, REALLY UP IN THE AIR. THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES PRETTY MUCH SHOWING THAT REPUBLICANS ARE DOING WELL EXCEPT IN THE 2ND DISTRICT. THAT'S STILL ALSO PRETTY MUCH NECK AND NECK WHEN YOU TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE MARGIN OF ERROR SO EXTREMELY INTERESTING TO WATCH AS THE POLLS COME OUT AND SHOWS WHERE REALLY DEMOCRATS HAVE SOME POTENTIAL.

WE'RE HAVING ALMOST AS MANY POLLS RELEASED AS TELEVISION COMMERCIALS AND THAT'S SAYING A LOT, AND STEVE THERE HAS BEEN A FAIR AMOUNT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT THE POSSIBLE POLITICIZATION POLLING THAT ONE NEEDS TO LOOK AT EACH POLL WITH A GRAIN OF SALT, CERTAINLY TO THE TRACK RECORD OF THE POLLING ORGANIZATION. HENDRIX TALK BUSINESS IS A PRETTY GOOD -- THAT'S AN ENORMOUS SAMPLE FOR THE STATE OF ARKANSAS.

YEAH. THAT'S A NON PARTISAN POLL AND A LOT OF THE POLLS HAVE POLITICAL LEANING ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT PERFORM THEM, AND I ALWAYS FIND CURIOUS. YOU WOULD THINK YOU WANT TO KNOW THE EXACT NUMBERS YOU'RE FACING BUT A POLL TAKEN BY A DEMOCRATIC OUTFIT TRENDS FOR THEM AND VICE VERSA FOR THE REPUBLICANS AND YOU COULD TAKE THE AGGREGATE OF ALL OF THE POLLS AND WHAT IS WHAT REAL CLEAR POLITICS DOES.

IT'S A WEBSITE FOR JUNKIES.

THAT'S RIGHT AND TWO WEEKS OF POLLS SHOW COTTON UP TWO POINTS AND HUTCHINSON UP FIVE POINT TWO WEEKS IN A ROW. THAT HOLDS FIRM AND ONE OF THE REASONS WHY YOU SAW MIKE ROSS COME OUT WITH THE SENIOR BILL OF RIGHTS AND THE VOTING BLOCK LIKELY TO GO TO THE POLLS. THAT'S NOT A COINCIDENCE HE NEEDS THAT BLOCK ON HIS SIDE.

I THINK THAT'S RIGHT BECAUSE ONE OF THE GROUPS THE DEMOCRATS HAVE LOST THE LAST YEAR CITIZEN OVER 65 THAT USED TO BE A FAIRLY RELIABLE DEMOCRATIC GROUP AND RELY ON THE ELDERLY PEOPLE TO VOTE DEMOCRATIC EVEN IN NATIONAL ELECTIONS AND IN THIS CASE THEY LOST THAT PRIMARILY BECAUSE 2009-2010 WHEN THEY WERE WRITING THE OBAMACARE, THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND MASSIVE CAMPAIGN AGAINST IT BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY AND THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HOW TERRIBLE IT WAS AND TAKE MEDICAID AWAY FROM SENIORS SO ALL OF THE POLLS HAVE SHOWN THAT THE OVER 65 PEOPLE ARE A PRETTY GOOD BLOCK OF DEMOCRATIC VOTERS -- I MEAN REPUBLICAN VOTERS NOW AND THAT IS WHAT MIKE ROSS IS TRYING TO TURN THAT AROUND.

WE HAVE NEW NUMBERS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION, THE JULY NUMBERS WHICH BASICALLY FLAT MICHAEL.

YEAH, IT WAS BELOW WHAT WAS EXPECTED, BELOW PROJECTIONS, ALSO BELOW THE SAME TIME LAST YEAR. $403 MILLION WAS THE NET AVAILABLE REVENUE AND 7.1 BELOW LAST MONTH LAST YEAR. NEARLY 10 MILLION BELOW FORECAST BUT THE FOLKS AT DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION SAID THEY WEREN'T PARTICULARLY CONCERNED ABOUT THIS IT WAS JUST A FEW FACTORS THAT DIDN'T WORK OUT. THEY SAID INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAXES WERE ON FORECAST AND THEY'RE SAYING THIS WAS AN OFF MONTH BUT DON'T THINK THIS IS REALLY TROUBLING SIGN FOR THE FISCAL YEAR.

AND AT MID-YEAR ERNIE NOT TERRIBLY INTUITIVE.

NO, IT'S NOT. TO SAY ONE MONTH PICTURE OF THE TAX COLLECTIONS IS NOT VERY RELIABLE. CORPORATE INCOME TAXES FLUCTUATE HUGELY FROM ONE MONTH TO THE NEXT. THEY WERE DOWN THIS TIME SO NEXT MONTH THEY WILL BE UP AGAIN AND STILL REVENUES ARE FLAT AND SALES TAXES REMAIN FLAT AND THEY HAVE FOR YEARS BECAUSE WE EAT AWAY EVERY TIME THE LEGISLATURE -- THEY CHOP AWAY AT THE SALES TAX AND EXEMPTION FRS MANUFACTURERS, WHATEVER, SO THE SALES TAX HAS FALLEN BEHIND INCOME TAXES UNTIL LAST YEAR AND SALES TAXES WERE THE BIGGER PRODUCER --

AND ERNIE INTERNET SALES ARE --

YEAH, THEY'RE GROWING AND THAT EATS AWAY AT THE SALES TAX PICTURE AND WE CAN SAY THAT THE DAY OF SURPLUSES THAT WE HAVE SEEN IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAT WON'T HAPPEN SO THE LEGISLATURE WHEN IT MEETS IN JANUARY WILL HAVE HARDER FISCAL PROBLEMS THAN THE PAST.

IF YOU END UP -- WHAT DID WE END UP WITH $50 MILLION SURPLUS, $60 MILLION SURPLUS?

I DON'T RECALL THE FIGURES, NOT BIG.

IT SOUNDS LIKE TO MR. AND MRS. ARKANSAS IT'S A LOT OF MONEY AND I'M NOT SAYING IT IS BUT IN THE GENERAL BUDGET IT TAKES ONE BUMP IN THE ROAD TO DISSOLVE THAT SURPLUS.

I THINK AGAIN THEY WILL HAVE FISCAL PROBLEMS IN FEBRUARY, MARCH AND THE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE THOSE ISSUES WHEN THEY GET AROUND TO IT AND PASSING APPROPRIATIONS AND THE REVENUE STABILIZATION ACT.

AND THAT WILL AFFECT THE PRIVATE OPTION.

THERE YOU GO.

IF IT'S THIS TIGHT THE LOSS OF THE PRIVATE OPTION WILL MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO CUT TAXES AND PRESSURE TO KEEP IT FOR THAT REASON.

THE JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE COMMISSION TOOK ACTION IN A CASE OF A FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE MICHAEL STRIPPING -- WELL, ALREADY IN EFFECT STRIPPING JUDGE MICHAEL MAGGIO OF ALL HIS DUTIES, EMPTIED HIS DOCKET AND THERE HAS BEEN ADJUDICATION IN THAT AT LEAST INVOLVING THE JUDGE.

RIGHT. THERE IS AN AGREEMENT REACHED THAT HE WILL BE SUSPENDED WITH PAY UNTIL THE END OF THE TERM UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR AND HE AGREED NEVER TO SERVE AS A JUDGE AGAIN IN ARKANSAS. THIS HAD TO DO WITH COMMENTS HE MADE UNDER A PSEUDONYM FOR A WEBSITE, LSU SPORTS, IN WHICH HE RELEASED DETAILS ABOUT ONE AN ACTRESS MAKING AN ADOPTION OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN BABY JUST MADE A LOT OF COMMENTS THAT WERE DEEMED EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE, AND THE COMMISSION IN ITS REPORT THIS WEEK BASICALLY SAID THAT THIS GOES BEYOND JUST YOUR PERSONAL OPINIONS, BUT THAT THIS -- THE COMMENTS WERE SO OFFENSIVE THAT THEY FELT IT SHOWED HE IS UNFIT FOR THE BENCH.

A BROADER CONCERN TO SOME PEOPLE IS THE FINANCING OF JUDGE MAGGIO'S CAMPAIGN AND THE CONNECTION WITH THE NURSING HOME.

THIS DIDN'T DEALT WITH THAT AND THIS DEALT WITH THE 23 VIOLATIONS OF THE ETHICS INVOLVED MOSTLY WITH THE BLOG IN LOUISIANA, THE DE DEROGATORY COMMENTS AND THE DESTRUCTION OF MATTER AND MIGHT BE A PROBLEM WITH THE LAW LICENSE LATER BUT THEY DIDN'T DEAL WITH THE HARDER ISSUE OF THE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS HE GOT FROM A NURSING HOMEOWNER ON THE VERY DAY HE LOWERED THE JUDGMENT, A $5 MILLION JURY JUDGMENT AGAINST MICHAEL MORTON'S NURSING HOME, ONE OF HIS NURSING HOMES AND LOWERED IT TO $1 MILLION ON THE SAME DAY THAT MORTON SENT CHECKS -- I THINK EIGHT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES WERE SET UP BY [INAUDIBLE] AND THE FORMER CHAIRMAN AND A FRIEND OF I -- MAGGIO AND THOSE ARE DIFFERENT MATTERS AND FBI AND OTHER CRIMINAL JURISDICTION MATTERS AND THERE MAYBE THINGS WITH THE JUDGE AND OTHERS WITH THOSE GIFTS. THAT'S TO COME LATER SO WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH THAT.

WE HAVE TO END IT NOW BECAUSE WE'RE OUT OF TIME. GENTLEMEN THANKS FOR COMING IN AND THANKS TO YOU FOR WATCHING AS ALWAYS AND WE WILL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.

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