COLUMN: Remembering Margaret Thatcher

By Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr

This week we received news that former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Lady Margaret Thatcher, has died. A towering figure of the Cold War, she stood strong alongside President Reagan against the Soviet Union earning the nickname "Iron Lady". She was one of those leaders whose steel and charisma endear their legacy to people's memories for generations. A true historical figure, she stood firm on her conservative principles at home and against the foes of humanity and freedom abroad. Her alliance with the United States helped stem Soviet aggression and avert a third World War.

She said that the problem with Socialist governments was that "they always run out of other people's money." I certainly agree. That's why I worry about how much money our federal government is spending in Washington. According to our national debt and annual deficits, the government ran out of our money a long time ago and yet it keeps spending more. It's unbelievable. I'm extremely grateful that our state government is bound by law to have a balanced budget in Arkansas. We can't afford to go into debt like other states are doing and I don't think Arkansans would stand for it.

Government spending is a constant battle between those who think government should spend an abundance of "other people's money" to solve everyone's problems and those who think individuals should keep more of their own money to make more of their own decisions. Lady Thatcher said, "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it," - which is why your state legislators come to Little Rock every year. There is always a battle between more taxes and more spending or less spending and fewer taxes. It's my hope that we see some good tax cuts come out of this session. Arkansas families need some tax relief and unlike some, I believe they can be better trusted to use it how they see fit.

It's been a busy few weeks at the Capitol. I am glad to say that a new voter ID law has passed and will now ensure more secure elections in Arkansas. Other significant pieces of legislation are being debated right now that will, no doubt, have an effect on the future prosperity of our state. Be sure to continue to contact your state representatives and senators to let them know your opinions as they cast these important votes.

Finally, this week I will be speaking at the dedication for the new John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant in Fulton, Arkansas. This state-of-the-art facility will be one of the cleanest, most efficient coal-fueled plants in the United States, and the first of its kind in operation in the United States. It has impacted the economy in Hempstead County as well as surrounding counties in a positive way. The Turk Plant has created 110 permanent jobs with an estimated payroll of $9 million. SWEPCO which owns 73% of the plant has contributed $1 million for scholarships to fund work force development at local community colleges. I am excited to see this job-creating project come to fruition.