Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb told KARN that while he appreciated Beebe’s focus on education, he would like to see some tax cuts saying, “I don’t think the governor should be talking about increasing educational funding until he has fulfilled his promise to completely eliminate the grocery tax.”
Rep. Roy Ragland from Marshall was more complimentary of Beebe’s speech telling the Tolbert Report, “I appreciate his conservative budgeting approach. The DHS Division of Children and Family Services does need help.”
This enthusiasm was not universal. “Parts of the governor's speech were inspiring,” Rep. Dan Greenberg told the Tolbert Report. “His pitch for raising taxes on smokers, who are disproportionately poor and working-class, was less so.”
Rep. Ed Garner was also not supportive on Beebe’s 56 cent proposal to raise the cigarette tax telling the Arkansas News Bureau, “I just don’t like the idea of taxing one segment of the public.” Instead, Garner says that he, along with House Minority Leader Rep. Bryan King support a plan that would raise $30 million through fines on drunk drivers to pay for the trauma system.
Some Republicans were not quite as critical. Sen. Kim Hendren from Gravette said to the Arkansas News Bureau that he plans to support the cigarette tax saying, “Cigarette smoking costs the state $690 million a year in smoking-related health care costs. We’re just asking for $76 million back. My poultry producers, businessmen and cattlemen can understand that.”