Ross, Hutchinson meet at ASU for last debate

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson (Republican) and Mike Ross (Democrat) met Monday night at Arkansas State University in the last of three debates before the election. Monday's debate became heated at several moments, with Ross ordering Hutchinson to apologize to his wife for including her in attack ads and Hutchinson later brushing off Ross's claims that Hutchinson supports the privatization of social security as "old school liberal attacks."

On the subject of infrastructure plans for Northeast Arkansas, Ross said highways and roads will be a top priority. "Roads in Northeast Arkansas and Jonesboro will be a priority because this is an area that is growing," Ross said.

Hutchinson said his first infrastructure priority would be completing Highway 226 as a four-lane, followed by completing I-555 to Memphis.

On the question of balancing cutting taxes with the need for education funding, Ross said he had a plan for "lower and fair taxes."

"The top rate starts at $32,000 a year," Ross said. "There's nothing fair about that. I'm going to fix it with the Beebe model." Ross said his plan would involve balancing the budget first, then funding education, followed by medicaid and public safety. "And then as we have revenue growth, and we always do, we're going to implement my plan for lower and fairer taxes," Ross said. Ross claimed Hutchinson's plan would result in drastic cuts to education.

"It's important that we lower the tax rate in Arkansas because we are not competitive with the surrounding states," Hutchinson said. Hutchinson outlined his tax cut plan for the first year, which involves starting with the those in the $20,000-$75,000 income range and cutting their tax rate from 7 percent to 6 percent.

In response to Hutchinson's plan, Ross said, "Forty percent of people who go to work every day are not rich enough for Hutchinson's plan." Regarding that 40 percent, Hutchinson said his plan was concentrating on the middle class.

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