Thursday, March 8, 2007

House Passes Two Bills Backed by Local 965

The Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills in the legislative package endorsed by AFSCME Local 965 and improving the educational opportunities for the children and grandchildren of working families.

By a 63-26 vote, the House approved House Bill 1796 giving state employees eight hours of paid leave per year to attend parent-teacher conferences and participate in field trips and other educational activities for their children or grandchildren in K-12. Fayetteville Democratic Representatives Jim House and Lindsley Smith voted for this family-friendly bill. Representatives Marilyn Edwards (D-Fayetteville), Eric Harris (R-Lowell), Daryl Pace (R-Siloam Springs), and Jon Woods (R-Springdale) voted against it. Reps. Mark Martin (R-Prairie Grove), Keven Anderson (R-Rogers), and Donna Hutchinson (R-Bella Vista) were listed as Not Voting.

The House also approved House Bill 2299 setting up the Higher Education Opportunities Grants, a needs-based scholarship program for low-income students providing $1,000 grants annually to full-time college students and $500 to part-time students. To be eligible, the student's average family adjusted gross income must be $25,000 or less if the student is an only child. The income limit increases by $5,000 for each additional child. The bill was co-sponsored by Fayetteville’s Democratic Representatives Edwards, House, and Smith, who voted for the bill. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) and Donna Hutchinson (R-Bella Vista) were listed as Not Voting.


Phalcon said...

Obviously, a little is better than nothing at all, IF you are even in position to go to college at all.

For those who are truly lower income, this is pretty much useless.

This is NOT reality.

My daughter graduated high school, and the only job she can get is at hamburger joints. She does not make enough money to even survive on her own, and is now faced with thousands of dollars in dental and medical bills. I live on Social Security disability, and she has to live with me, and it takes all we both make just to pay the bills each month (And thanks to the generosity of my former employer, I don't even have to pay any rent. If I did, we would both be on the street)

So much for college or even tech school. She is stuck forever, and her lack of access to health care is going to kill her.

Sorry, but his is just no help at all. The people who write these bills don't live in the real world.

I worked all my life, believing that my hard work would pay off. I had a good job, with good pay, and it all went out the window when my wife died of a heart attack, also because of lack of access to health care. She could have been saved, but it took everything we both made just to get by, and we didn't have the $400 extra per month to pay for health insurnace for her and the kids.

After she died, my daughter had to work to help us survive, and then my health went bad. Now she is stuck, and when I die, she is in deep trouble.

Her paychecks for the next few years will ALL go to the dentists and doctors because she has problems we are both trying to pay for.

And people wonder why I am in favor of universal health care and higher education!

The money our government wastes each year could pay for this, but captialism is about profits, not people

Anonymous said...

You speak of Reality, but the Reality is that most legislators and their masters do not care about the poor. The poor do not give campaign contributions, do not vote, do not know who their state legislators are, and certainly do not hold them accountable for their votes.

I applaud the local Democrats who voted for these bills, as should you. Save your anger for the local Republicans in Springdale and Benton County who always vote against working families and for the corporations.

Phalcon said...

I do not condemn them for passing the legislation, but I condemn the entire system for not doing enough.

Something is better than nothing, I agree, but it is useless to those who cannot make use of it.

As for holding them accountable, the system is fixed. It's a rigged game. The choices are often no choice at all that has any meaning.

And you are right. They all serve the same masters: money and power.

And you are also right about the apathy and those who will not organize and demand an accounting.

Maybe we do get the government we deserve, but some of us do fight.

As a radical organizer, I know all too well how difficult it is to get people out of their "comfort zone." The truth is often not very pleasant. And action always has a cost.

As I said in my post on my website, I applaud the Union and the legislators for the bill, but we need a far more sweeping transformation.