A Thank You Note to our Members, Allies and Friends:

You've helped make Arkansas better in 2015. The Panel and CFC spent this year informing and engaging the people of Arkansas in the push for stronger opportunity. We’re wrapping up with a look back at some of our biggest accomplishments. We definitely saw the power of the people this year. Thanks for your effort to keep the state moving toward justice. Let’s do it again in 2016.

You Helped Set the Right Priorities to Create Opportunity in Arkansas You helped us highlight the needs of hard working families. Several hundred members of the CFC filled the Capitol in February, led by the South Arkansas Caucus. You called on lawmakers to expand pre-K funding, support afterschool and Summer programs, enact prison reform, train election workers and create a state Earned Income Tax Credit to help the working poor lift themselves from poverty.

You Helped Set the Right Priorities to Create Opportunity in Arkansas

You helped us highlight the needs of hard working families. Several hundred members of the CFC filled the Capitol in February, led by the South Arkansas Caucus. You called on lawmakers to expand pre-K funding, support afterschool and Summer programs, enact prison reform, train election workers and create a state Earned Income Tax Credit to help the working poor lift themselves from poverty.

You helped us get the governor to improve Medicaid More than 50,000 people lost health insurance coverage because the state used an unfair and ineffective system to verify the income of people on the Private Option. Thousands of Arkansans signed our petition calling on the Governor to fix the mess. The CFC, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance held a joint press conference in September to ask Governor Hutchinson to reinstate coverage for everyone who had been terminated from Medicaid, unless there was proof they are no longer eligible. Two people who lost their Medicaid coverage shared their stories of losing coverage at critical times. Lindsey Reed and her daughter lost their coverage, even though the lifelong teacher can’t return to work following a traumatic brain injury. She asked the Governor to “Do the right thing, and fix this problem now.” The state improved outreach and made the verification system more fair while targeting fewer people. Arkansas has reinstated more than 16,000 people, including Reed and her daughter, but many more who probably qualify are still waiting.

You helped us get the governor to improve Medicaid

More than 50,000 people lost health insurance coverage because the state used an unfair and ineffective system to verify the income of people on the Private Option. Thousands of Arkansans signed our petition calling on the Governor to fix the mess. The CFC, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance held a joint press conference in September to ask Governor Hutchinson to reinstate coverage for everyone who had been terminated from Medicaid, unless there was proof they are no longer eligible. Two people who lost their Medicaid coverage shared their stories of losing coverage at critical times. Lindsey Reed and her daughter lost their coverage, even though the lifelong teacher can’t return to work following a traumatic brain injury. She asked the Governor to “Do the right thing, and fix this problem now.” The state improved outreach and made the verification system more fair while targeting fewer people. Arkansas has reinstated more than 16,000 people, including Reed and her daughter, but many more who probably qualify are still waiting.

You Helped Us Protect Public Schools A diverse coalition of education advocates from across Arkansas stopped an attempt to privatize public schools, and called on legislators to instead focus on proven reforms. House Bill 1733 would have allowed private corporations to take over public schools or districts in academic distress, killing local control and excluding community input. You helped us fill the Capitol with calls to kill the bill. Nine groups signed a letter to legislators expressing their opposition, and the sponsor of the bill quickly responded by withdrawing it. Following the decision, more than 400 Arkansans gathered at the Capitol to make it clear, we will not allow political power plays to threaten the future of our children.  

You Helped Us Protect Public Schools

A diverse coalition of education advocates from across Arkansas stopped an attempt to privatize public schools, and called on legislators to instead focus on proven reforms. House Bill 1733 would have allowed private corporations to take over public schools or districts in academic distress, killing local control and excluding community input. You helped us fill the Capitol with calls to kill the bill. Nine groups signed a letter to legislators expressing their opposition, and the sponsor of the bill quickly responded by withdrawing it. Following the decision, more than 400 Arkansans gathered at the Capitol to make it clear, we will not allow political power plays to threaten the future of our children.

 

Thousands of You Flooded the Capitol to Fight Discrimination HB1228 opened the doors to discrimination against any Arkansan for any reason on the false premise of religious freedom. Arkansans from every county signed our petition telling the governor that hate and discrimination are not Arkansas values. African-American and Latino community groups joined religious, GLBT and civil liberty organizations to lead the campaign. We refused to back down and allow a return to the discrimination prevalent before the civil rights movement. At the 11th hour the Governor, who had encouraged the bill, retreated and asked for a better, but still unnecessary, bill that simply mirrors existing Federal law.

Thousands of You Flooded the Capitol to Fight Discrimination

HB1228 opened the doors to discrimination against any Arkansan for any reason on the false premise of religious freedom. Arkansans from every county signed our petition telling the governor that hate and discrimination are not Arkansas values. African-American and Latino community groups joined religious, GLBT and civil liberty organizations to lead the campaign. We refused to back down and allow a return to the discrimination prevalent before the civil rights movement. At the 11th hour the Governor, who had encouraged the bill, retreated and asked for a better, but still unnecessary, bill that simply mirrors existing Federal law.

You Helped Us Create a Special Education Task Force to Improve Education for Our Most Vulnerable The CFC and other education advocates pushed the 2015 legislature to create a task force on Special Education after parents complained many schools were not meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Education advocates want to improve placement and performance, because too many children of color and children from low income families are being put into the program unnecessarily. The task force is still meeting, and needs YOUR input! Click Here to Learn More

You Helped Us Create a Special Education Task Force to Improve Education for Our Most Vulnerable

The CFC and other education advocates pushed the 2015 legislature to create a task force on Special Education after parents complained many schools were not meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Education advocates want to improve placement and performance, because too many children of color and children from low income families are being put into the program unnecessarily. The task force is still meeting, and needs YOUR input! Click Here to Learn More

You Helped Us Ban New Large Swine Operations on the Buffalo You flooded ADEQ with a record number of comments supporting our proposal to ban industrial hog operations in the Buffalo National River watershed. The public outcry ensured the Panel and the Ozark Society’s efforts to protect the Buffalo became law. The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission adopted changes to two regulations to prohibit new permits for large swine facilities in the Buffalo River Watershed. The Panel and the Ozark Society petitioned the Commission in April of 2014, to initiate both rulemakings.

You Helped Us Ban New Large Swine Operations on the Buffalo

You flooded ADEQ with a record number of comments supporting our proposal to ban industrial hog operations in the Buffalo National River watershed. The public outcry ensured the Panel and the Ozark Society’s efforts to protect the Buffalo became law. The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission adopted changes to two regulations to prohibit new permits for large swine facilities in the Buffalo River Watershed. The Panel and the Ozark Society petitioned the Commission in April of 2014, to initiate both rulemakings.

You Are Helping New Energy Efficiency Programs Spread Across Arkansas You've been helping us improve Arkansas' outdated energy policies for years, over heavy industry and big utility opposition. The Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, Act, became law in 2013, after heavy advocacy by environmental leaders in the Arkansas Citizens First Congress and other groups. This year, the first energy efficiency upgrade project was completed in Northwest Arkansas, and cities and counties in Central Arkansas are also moving forward with their own PACE districts. Improving our energy policies creates Arkansas jobs, saves consumers money and helps fight the carbon pollution driving climate change.

You Are Helping New Energy Efficiency Programs Spread Across Arkansas

You've been helping us improve Arkansas' outdated energy policies for years, over heavy industry and big utility opposition. The Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, Act, became law in 2013, after heavy advocacy by environmental leaders in the Arkansas Citizens First Congress and other groups. This year, the first energy efficiency upgrade project was completed in Northwest Arkansas, and cities and counties in Central Arkansas are also moving forward with their own PACE districts. Improving our energy policies creates Arkansas jobs, saves consumers money and helps fight the carbon pollution driving climate change.

You Helped Us Show a Better, Cheaper Way to Address Mental Health in Arkansas Prisons Arkansas has an opportunity to address our incarceration crisis by helping people with mental health problems, while saving the state money and making our communities safer. Many people with mental health issues have nowhere else to go and end up crowding our jails and prisons. Over-representation of those suffering from mental illness in jails has increased over the past several decades due to diminishing mental health services. A recent study commissioned by the Panel suggests diverting people with mental illness into crisis centers rather than jails could provide better mental-health care, promote public safety and save the state close to $140 million each year. Reports like this, that bring straightforward analysis and clarity to issues are not possible without our donors.

You Helped Us Show a Better, Cheaper Way to Address Mental Health in Arkansas Prisons

Arkansas has an opportunity to address our incarceration crisis by helping people with mental health problems, while saving the state money and making our communities safer. Many people with mental health issues have nowhere else to go and end up crowding our jails and prisons. Over-representation of those suffering from mental illness in jails has increased over the past several decades due to diminishing mental health services. A recent study commissioned by the Panel suggests diverting people with mental illness into crisis centers rather than jails could provide better mental-health care, promote public safety and save the state close to $140 million each year. Reports like this, that bring straightforward analysis and clarity to issues are not possible without our donors.

You Helped Us Fund a Key Study on Curbing Carbon Pollution The Carbon Fee and Dividend approach is simple. Coal fired power plants are charged a fee for each ton of carbon pollution they emit. The money is then is distributed monthly to every Arkansan. Polluters are financially motivated to find cleaner and more efficient ways of energy production. This leads to more investment in clean, renewable energy. The Arkansas Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel partnered to raise over $40,000 to fund  a state-level Carbon Fee and Dividend study. The report shows this approach is cost-effective, business friendly and feasible in Arkansas.  

You Helped Us Fund a Key Study on Curbing Carbon Pollution

The Carbon Fee and Dividend approach is simple. Coal fired power plants are charged a fee for each ton of carbon pollution they emit. The money is then is distributed monthly to every Arkansan. Polluters are financially motivated to find cleaner and more efficient ways of energy production. This leads to more investment in clean, renewable energy. The Arkansas Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel partnered to raise over $40,000 to fund  a state-level Carbon Fee and Dividend study. The report shows this approach is cost-effective, business friendly and feasible in Arkansas.

 

You Are Helping Us Build Stronger Campaigns Special interest groups are stronger than ever at the Capitol, but you are answering the call to work harder to make sure lawmakers keep the needs of hard working families in mind. Our next session on building stronger campaigns is in Little Rock on Saturday, January 23rd. o help advocates build stronger campaigns for change in Arkansas.  

You Are Helping Us Build Stronger Campaigns

Special interest groups are stronger than ever at the Capitol, but you are answering the call to work harder to make sure lawmakers keep the needs of hard working families in mind. Our next session on building stronger campaigns is in Little Rock on Saturday, January 23rd. o help advocates build stronger campaigns for change in Arkansas.

 

GOOD TO GREAT CAMPAIGN IMPROVING RURAL PRE-K PROGRAMS AS MODEL FOR STATEWIDE REFORM You helped the Panel team up with parents, educators, community leaders and other advocates to improve early childhood education in Arkansas. The Good to Great initiative is underway in Prescott and Marvell. The Arkansas State University Division of Childhood services is working with pre-K teachers and centers to improve their day to day interactions with students and create more cooperation between pre-K centers and the K-12 education system.  Increasing community participation in education is a big part of the project. The Panel collected hundreds of surveys from parents in Marvell and Prescott to find a baseline perception of pre-K and education in general. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families analyzed the results of those surveys, and found most people feel welcomed and encouraged to be involved in their schools. However, many respondents also said they don’t go to the parent resource center, attend school board meetings, or vote in local elections.

GOOD TO GREAT CAMPAIGN IMPROVING RURAL PRE-K PROGRAMS AS MODEL FOR STATEWIDE REFORM

You helped the Panel team up with parents, educators, community leaders and other advocates to improve early childhood education in Arkansas.

The Good to Great initiative is underway in Prescott and Marvell. The Arkansas State University Division of Childhood services is working with pre-K teachers and centers to improve their day to day interactions with students and create more cooperation between pre-K centers and the K-12 education system. 

Increasing community participation in education is a big part of the project. The Panel collected hundreds of surveys from parents in Marvell and Prescott to find a baseline perception of pre-K and education in general. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families analyzed the results of those surveys, and found most people feel welcomed and encouraged to be involved in their schools. However, many respondents also said they don’t go to the parent resource center, attend school board meetings, or vote in local elections.

You Are Working Together Across Lines That Have Too Often Divided Us In South Arkansas, a new organizing strategy is bringing communities together and increasing participation in the CFC.  The Panel helps 10 groups organize in South West and South East Arkansas. Although many of the groups are just miles apart, they’ve been working in isolation. Each group has their own issues at the local level but many of those problems are similar. We are binging this energy together every three months to discuss issues and develop a regional agenda. The new strategy is more effective, combining similar campaigns and also empowering leaders to work with one another. Central and north Arkansas are also joining in, crossing lines of race, issues and geography to build power for a better Arkansas for ALL.

You Are Working Together Across Lines That Have Too Often Divided Us

In South Arkansas, a new organizing strategy is bringing communities together and increasing participation in the CFC. 

The Panel helps 10 groups organize in South West and South East Arkansas. Although many of the groups are just miles apart, they’ve been working in isolation. Each group has their own issues at the local level but many of those problems are similar. We are binging this energy together every three months to discuss issues and develop a regional agenda. The new strategy is more effective, combining similar campaigns and also empowering leaders to work with one another.

Central and north Arkansas are also joining in, crossing lines of race, issues and geography to build power for a better Arkansas for ALL.