Highways Are A Rural Lifeline

Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!

“I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

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.”

Black History Month Shows Arkansas at its Best

Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!

 

 

I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

Arkansans have a rich history. There really is a great deal for us to take pride in. Throughout our state’s great moments, and crisis, time and time again we have seen great leaders emerge. These are people we should celebrate, who have shown us that good can break through, even when it appears we are in the wilderness.

It shows us that faith, can get a long way.

That’s why we celebrate Black History Month, that’s why we are paying attention to our history.

It’s a time to be inspired. It’s a time to stand firm in our resolve. But it’s also a time enjoy the great accomplishments of our state.

Too often we think of African-American history just a struggle. But it’s not just that. It’s a story of victory. It’s a story of overcoming. Our history certainly has its dark moments, but that’s not who we are. It’s not what defines us. What defines us is the moments where the light has broken through. And time and time again we have seen powerful lights in Arkansas history, prophetic lights.

That’s why we talk about Black History Month. That’s why we celebrate.

We celebrate people like Edith Jones. She was the first African-American to be accepted at a medical school in the entire south. She graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School.

We celebrate people like Silas Hunt, a World War II veteran, who in 1948 became the first time black student admitted to any all‐white university in the South since Reconstruction, at the U of A’s law school.

We celebrate the men and women who entered the legal world, and made this state better for all of us. People like Scipio Jones, born the son of a slave, defended black sharecroppers after the Elaine Massacre of 1919, the deadliest lynching in U.S. history.

We celebrate the hard things, the difficult things our state has endured. We also celebrate the good, the joy that people have brought this state. People like composer Scott Joplin of Texarkana, who became the “Father of Ragtime Music” fill our rich history, and give us much to be proud about.

These are just a few examples, a few of the people. But we also can rest assured that the heroes of our state, our countless. We all live with our history, and we all can take a role in shaping it.

Black History Month shows Arkansas at its best. It shows the tremendous strides we can take, no matter the circumstances. It also shows us that the seemingly improbable, is often more feasible than we think.

I have faith we will honor these legacies in our state. I have faith we will expect more out of our state in the future. And I have faith our generation will leave a strong legacy for our future generations, for the future history of Arkansas.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Black History Month. I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.”

Democratic Weekly Radio Address: February 1, 2019

Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!

“I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas

Arkansans work hard. And maybe none more so than our First Responders. We all know this. Many of us have seen their work firsthand, and know it can literally mean the difference between life and death. That’s especially true when vital services get stretched thin, sometimes critically out in rural Arkansas.

Despite our shared values and support for firefighters, police, and paramedics – our politics fail us, and fail them. But I know we can do better.

Our politics must live up to our values. It’s about who we are, it’s about what we want this state to be. And our priorities must put our firefighters, our police, our EMTS first. Let’s put Arkansas First.

Over the next few months the Arkansas Legislature is meeting at the state Capitol in Little Rock. There is real opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together, and do what we all know is best. I have faith that as Arkansans, we can pull together, we can do this.

There will be opportunities to advance real relief, some real support for those that give their all, day in and day out for our communities. The men and women who selflessly serve our communities deserve our support.

Our state troopers risk their lives to protect and serve. They don’t deserve the second lowest pay in the nation. Let’s do better. Let’s do right by them.

Our firefighters, who would literally walk into the fire for each and every one of us, make even less. These brave men and women also face a unique danger. They aren’t just battling flames, but they’re risking exposure to toxic elements that can cause diseases such as cancer. As a result, 70 percent of firefighter line-of-duty deaths are from cancer.

You’d think our values, our priorities would make sure that at the least, we took care of them when they are down, when they get sick. But the sad truth is, we often don’t. Arkansas is one of only two states that doesn’t give firefighter’s cancer disability benefits, and we don’t provide cancer-sick leave either.

Right now, our state is asking our firefighters to fight cancer at the very same time they are putting out our fires. They have our backs in times of crisis, it’s time for us to do the same for them. Let’s do better. Let’s do right by them.

The good news, is that the solutions are simpler than we think. There is a bill in the Legislature right now, backed by firefighters, that would provide cancer-sick leave so that firefighters battling stage 4 cancer won’t have to be asked to run into a burning building, but instead will be able to fight for his or her own life.

I have faith that there will be many opportunities in this legislative session to help out hardworking Arkansans. Democrats have good ideas to put on the table, like the bill to protect firefighters battling cancer. That idea comes from a freshman Democratic legislator. It’s her very first bill, and it’s a good one. There are good, new ideas, on both sides of the aisle that just make common sense.

Let’s not let politics get in the way. Let’s recognize that there is much that unites us all. And let’s continue to put Arkansas First.

I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas”

Democratic Weekly Radio Address: January 25, 2019

Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!

“I am Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

Our federal government has been shutdown for more than 30 days. We can argue who’s to blame and we can say who’s winning the politics, but the fact is 800,000 workers missed their second consecutive paycheck. These are our neighbors, friends, and family members forced to go to food banks for food.

My simple question: what is this all for.

It is Washington at its worst. It is what people are tired of. And frankly, I don’t care what party it is.

There is a question about our nation’s border security. We need to figure out the best solution to secure our border and allow legal immigration. But this shutdown is an absolute ridiculous line in the sand being drawn. The problem is the President has made this an issue about border security based primarily on fears and uneducated assumptions. It’s all predicated on a campaign promise that he can’t keep.

It’s time to have an honest discussion. If we need to build a wall, build a wall. If we need to look at what a wall can really do, let’s look at it. Our Democrats in Washington need to come to the table to negotiate, we need honest commitment to fix both border security and our immigration system.

It takes about seven years to become a citizen if you immigrate from Mexico to the U.S. That is a problem. If you want to become a citizen, if you want to work hard in this country–and pay your taxes–then why are we saying “no, you must wait 7 years.”

Build the wall, put some doors in it. Because I promise you if I live in a place where I might get killed, where I struggled to feed my family and all I had to do was cross a border legally or illegally, I promise you I’d do it.

Let’s staff the thing and quit arguing over whose fault it is.

The President Has not been successful. He has been successful in finding a wedge issue and appealing to racism and other forms of -isms, that people use to characterize people that immigration from other countries. He’s utilizing that instead of talking about the real problem. And Democrats are laying into it, but that’s not the right way to govern either.

We need to stop talking about winning and losing. We need to put a human face on this, and we don’t need to look any further than those around us missing another paycheck and wondering how they are going to feed their families.”

Democratic Weekly Radio Address: January 19, 2019

Take a listen to the Democratic Weekly Radio Address.

 

“I’m Michael John Gray, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

The 92nd General Assembly of the Arkansas Legislature began this week, and Arkansas Democrats – from Lake Village to Little Rock to Lowell – are ready to get to work.

Our job is simple, to make our state better. And it’s a tall order, Arkansas has a ways to go – especially in our rural counties and our minority communities. But the solutions to our problems our often simpler than we think.

We just need to put aside partisan ideologies, and stop waging Washington D.C.-style political battles. We can set our differences aside, find common ground, and truly govern this state for the people of Arkansas.

We can all agree on fundamental values.

Like making sure we have good rural roads, which are the lifelines of many communities; making a real investment in early childhood education for the first time in 10 years; making the internet accessible, so that no county is left behind; and finally bringing an end to the waiting list for at-home care for people with disabilities. All our counties must benefit from economic growth, not just the same five or six we always hear about in the news.

In short, our guiding principle should be Arkansas Comes First,

This Legislature is capable of great accomplishments. They can all come together around common sense issues. I’ve seen it before, and I have faith they can can do it again, this year, in this legislative session

There are good ideas that all sides can agree on. Arkansas Democrats are ready to do the work, with the entire Legislature. That includes members from the Republican Party and the Democratic Party – all 135 Legislators.

We are going to work together, not to score political points, or for our own personal agendas. We will do this because it is right, because our values compel us to, because the people of Arkansas simply can’t wait any longer.

Arkansans can’t wait any longer to have quality pre-K for their children. Arkansans can’t wait any longer to know their roads are going to be taken care of. And Arkansans can’t wait any longer for more money in their pocket at the end of each month.

Democrats believe in providing real tax relief – but it can’t come at the expense of the middle class and it can’t come at the expense of good roads, pre-K, and basic things like state police salaries and caring for our disabled.

There has been a lot of discussion about our new minimum wage law this session. There are good points on both sides. But the fact is that nearly 70-percent of voters just approved raising the minimum wage in the last election. And despite that, our legislature introduced a bill that would do-away with the minimum wage for most jobs, going directly against the will of the people.

It is critical that we pay attention to our lawmakers, to make sure they’re doing what you sent them to the Capitol to do — and not blindly following an ideology, or taking orders from lobbyists or special interest groups.

Our priorities need to focus on Arkansas families. It’s about respecting the people of this state. That’s what Arkansas Democrats are all about, and what we’re going to do during this Legislative session.

We need to make sure that Arkansas Comes First.”