Arkansas Demands Accountability For Pandemic Economic Response, Help For Workers

Arkansas Needs To Step Up
LITTLE ROCK — On Monday morning, Arkansas Democrats outlined the clear, bi-partisan need for Arkansas to start delivering on promises of real assistance to essential workers and self-employed business owners. 60 days into this crisis the state must move forward, as well as be accountable for: (1) the failure of the state to build a secure website for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, (2) the failure of the state to distribute Pandemic Unemployment benefits despite 35 other states succeeding, (3) and documented insider favoritism inside the Ready for Business grant program.
“There is growing bi-partisan frustration with how the state has mismanaged millions of dollars meant to provide real economic relief to independent contractors, salons, barbers, and regular mom and pop shops across Arkansas. We’ve seen the state bend over backward to rush deliver huge sums of money to companies that have lobbyists and CPAs at the ready, even giving them advanced notice of the Ready For Business grant program,” said D.P.A. Chairman Michael John Gray. “Meanwhile, Arkansas is one of just a small handful of states that has failed to deliver unemployment assistance to self-employed business owners despite being more than two months into this crisis. To make matters worse, those who have applied have had their personal, financial data exposed online due to a faulty state website.
“We have put our trust in our leaders to get us through this crisis and to put Arkansas first. This isn’t about blame, but we do need some accountability to make sure we move forward in a way that will truly help working Arkansans. That means creating a bi-partsian committee to investigate why some insiders had advanced knowledge of the Ready for Business Grant, why the state failed to secure it’s unemployment website, and why the state has failed to deliver assistance for more than 60 days.
“Moreover, it’s clear that it’s time to finally show some respect to the essential workers and frontline workers who have shown up every day through this crisis. The grocery store clerks, the bank tellers, and the hardware store clerks that have kept us moving deserve support. But right now, it can sometimes feel like those who are working aren’t getting much recognition. They have earned help from the state, whether it be a child tax credit or an income tax exemption. It’s time for Arkansas to put it’s priorities in the right order.”