HOT SPRINGS, AR - Issues ranging from the minimum wage, private option, and prisons/jail overcrowding to same-sex marriage, the Buffalo River watershed/hog farm controversy and control of the lottery took center stage in a debate this afternoon between the four men running for governor of Arkansas.
The Green Party's Josh Drake, Libertarian Frank Gilbert, Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross squared off on the issues before the summer convention of the Arkansas Press Association.
At the beginning of the debate, each candidate discussed their mains areas of concern. For Hutchinson, it's education, business growth, healthcare reform that works and regulatory reform.
Drake said he wants to win 3 percent of the vote as a victory for his party. He also shared that he believes in tax reform and is environmentally conscious.
Ross told the crowd he believes in Arkansas and its people and that we can do better. As he's said before, Ross wants to be the education governor. Today he touched on Pre-K programs and Vo-Tech training.
Gilbert began by touting his party, saying that Hutchinson and Ross will spend millions trying to point out significant differences in their parties. He said there would be no difference if either candidate is elected but there would be with a Libertarian in the governor's office.
The gubernatorial candidates then discussed the same-sex marriage movement, answering the question what good and not so good has come from it.
Reporter Marci Manley posted their responses on Twitter:
- Drake: Equal protection in the Constitution. If government gives benefits to those who are married, then gay couples must have an option.
- Hutchinson: Supports marriage between one man and one woman. Still unanswered questions from SCOTUS.
- Gilbert: State has a right to stay out of the marriage business. I believe it should. If people wish to be married they should be.
- Ross: Personally opposed to gay marriage but issue will be resolved by SCOTUS.
What taxes would you raise or eliminate was another question for the men:
- Hutchinson: Won't raise any tax. Reduce individual income tax. Start with middle income folks who have been squeezed. My plan is prudent. Ross plan costs 6x's my plan.
- Gilbert: Don't raise any tax. Eliminate individual income tax as soon as possible. Do away with corporate welfare. Eliminate any boards that can't justify existence. No income tax is fair to everybody. Eliminates need for minimum wage because everybody gets a raise.
- Ross: Support lower tax rates. Nothing fair about tax rates. Will make changes just like Beebe did with grocery tax.
- Drake: Those who make more should pay more in taxes to eliminate sales tax across state. Minimum wage needs raised.
The debate was streamed live over the internet. Debates were held earlier in the day for candidates in the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General races.