Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TOP STORY >> Glover hopes he can keep serving

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

State Sen. Bobby Glover will be out of office at the end of the year because of term limits, but he told members of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce Tuesday during a general membership luncheon that he won’t stop working.

Glover (D-Carlisle), who suffered a stroke less than two years ago, said he had three possibilities for work when his run as senator has ended: a political position that he’s not at liberty to discuss, an appointment on the Highway Commission that he has little hope the governor will grant because those positions are the ones everyone wants, and as a staffer for former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge of Paragould if he is elected to Congress from the First District now represented by Cong. Marion Berry (D-Gillett).

“I want to stay involved and work with the people of Cabot and Lonoke County because I think you are the most wonderful people in the world,” he said.

Although Cabot votes Republican and Glover is a Democrat, he is known as a friend to the city. He reminded the 130 chamber members that he worked with Gov. Mike Beebe in the last session to get the $400,000 in state money that paid for the land where the armory is being built.

As for holding a session mostly to look at the governor’s budget, Glover said he was opposed to doing that. It costs $23,000 a day for a legislative session, he said.

Since the governor is required by law to present a budget that limits spending to the amount of revenue taken in, the legislature is almost bound to approve what the governor gives them, Glover said. And since the governor can call a special session anytime he needs to, a law requiring the legislature to meet every year is unnecessary.

In addition to the budget, the legislature met this year to set the amounts of the college scholarships from the state lottery at $5,000 for four-year schools and $2,500 for two-year schools.

Glover said he is against the lottery.

“Seventy-five percent of those who participate can’t afford it,” he said. “They can’t pay their bills or take care of their kids.”

And he is concerned about the projected $400 million in additional revenue the state is projected to need in two years to continue to support Medicaid.

He won’t be there for the next session when a solution will need to be found, said Glover who has spent the last 35 years either as a state representative or state senator.

State Rep. Davy Carter, R, Cabot, who was also scheduled to speak, was called away to Orlando, Fla., where his employer, Centennial Bank, has purchased seven Old Southern Banks in the area.

His statement about the first fiscal session of the state legislature was read by Corey Williams, president-elect of the Chamber of Commerce, member of the school board and fellow Centennial Bank employee.

“Although I did not initially support the ballot initiative authorizing annual sessions, I do think it was beneficial to analyze the budget during these volatile times,” Carter said in his prepared statement.

“Arkansas has weathered the recession better than almost any other state. We are not, however, without challenges ahead, the biggest of which, in my opinion, is the unsustainable growth in Medicaid expenses.

“To be sure, recent figures indicate that unless we implement significant changes in Medicaid at the state level, we will run an approximate $400 million deficit in two years.

“Although the federal government matches our state dollars three to one, in a state where over 90 percent or our state budget is spent on education, prisons and social services, we simply cannot afford it.

“The governor has said the state can’t provide the needed revenue for Medicaid without cutting funding for schools or prisons or imposing new taxes.

“I, for one, am not in favor of any new taxes,” Carter said.

The chamber met in the dining room of the First Baptist Church to dine on catfish prepared by Crossroads Café.