Last week, we warned you about a deal that was going on behind the scenes: Governor Beebe was using the teacher insurance premium ‘crisis’ to exercise more control over school funding, so that he could then redistribute the funds to other districts. You know: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, that kind of thing. While a few Republican legislators seemed anxious to give the governor exactly what he wanted, others were sounding the alarm behind the scenes. One of those legislators was State Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle).
In emails we published last week, Lowery explained the behind-the-scenes workings of Beebe’s plan:
It appears [Beebe] is going to hold hostage the legislation needed to fix the teacher insurance issue so he can beat down the Supreme Court ruling…or at least use the solution to put pressure through Superintendents on us to pass the URT bill.”
But Lowery’s work wasn’t just behind the scenes: on Friday, he made the motion to table the bill that contained Beebe’s redistributive school-funding scheme. The motion carried and Lowery’s move led to the death of the bill after pro-Beebe lawmakers were unable to get the votes to put the bill back in play.
In a statement to The Arkansas Project about these developments, Lowery said:
I thought the special session was the wrong place to address the URT issue. There are significant conflicting viewpoints on the “taking” of the excess revenues generated by URT and all of those viewpoints should be taken into consideration. That would not have happened while we were under the gun to address the teacher insurance premium hike emergency. The Lakeview decision tasks the Legislature with defining and addressing adequacy as it relates to k – 12 education. That deserves a thorough examination on issues beyond dollars and cents in assuring adequacy in our public schools.”
As we’ve seen since the inception of the allegedly Republican majority, standing up to Governor Beebe and his Republican allies can be a difficult thing to do. Governor Beebe is used to getting what he wants; he’s not used to legislators who stand up for their own opinions. Props to Rep. Lowery and other legislators — including some Democrats — who said no to Beebe’s power grab.
Stay attentive, however: many lawmakers are warning that Beebe will not give up on this fight until he’s left the governor’s mansion.