Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!
Arkansas’s roads are more than just asphalt. They’re a literal lifeline for countless Arkansas communities.
When you’re talking about the very roads that let us take our crops to market, that take our children to school, and that take our loved ones to the nearest hospital, you’re talking about more than just concrete and cement. You’re talking about livelihoods, and quality of life.
I’m a farmer, I’m a father, I need these roads just like you do. It’s one of the reasons I think this state will come together on a funding solution. A good road affects all of us, no matter our job or status in life.
It is critical that we don’t just curse every pot hole, and swear at every orange barrel we see. It is critical instead that we demand real solutions. Our elected leaders are meeting at the state Capitol the next few weeks, during this year’s session of the Arkansas Legislature.
They, just like you and me, know what it’s like to drive on Arkansas’s sprawling road network. They, just like you and me, know that some parts of the state always seem to have better roads than other parts of the state.
I’m proud of having a highway system that connects 75 counties. But we need to do more to make sure that everyone is truly served. We need to make sure that all 16,000 miles of roadways are actually drive-able. We can’t leave anyone behind.
While we appreciate more lanes to get through big cities, like Little Rock. We have to make sure there is just as big a commitment to our rural areas. Our rural towns do not matter less than our big cities, but unfortunately our highway dollars aren’t always spent that way. But we are a rural state, and we can unite behind making sure our rural roads are just as important in the conversation.
We have to ensure that all of our communities, especially our rural towns, are treated fairly in any highway funding plan. It is critical to our state’s economic development and to our quality of life.
There are many ideas on how to fund our highways. Many of those ideas show great promise. Both Republicans and Democrats know how critical it is that we stop kicking the can down the road on highway funding.
I believe we can come together on this. This is a common-sense issue. It is simply too important to ignore.
And frankly we can’t ignore it. We see the problems on our roadways first-hand everyday. We see it when we’re driving from our farms to town, we see it when we commute to work, or when we go in search of the nearest services.
We feel it when traffic grinds our drive to a halt, and we feel it when our car hits a bad patch of roadway. We especially notice it if we travel out of state, we can feel how smooth our drives could be.
So let’s fix our roads. Let’s come together.
And let’s do it in a smart way. Let’s do it in a comprehensive way.
That means making sure that working people don’t have to shoulder the burden of paying for our roadways all by themselves. We’ve got to make sure that any changes to the gas tax don’t hurt us at the pump. We’ve got to make sure we don’t take money from schools, or from our hospitals, or from critical state services.
But we can balance our priorities — if we’re smart, if we make sure to dot our “i’s” and cross our “t’s.” There is room to fund our roads. It’s about priorities. I’ve told you where mine are.
And now it’s time to get going. It’s time to turn the ignition, put our foot and the pedal, and to move.
I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.