Capitol View: Mark Pryor
>> >> from the victory studios in downtown little rock, this is capitol view with your host, jesi turnure.
>> good sunday morning to you, and welcome in to capitol view i'm jesi turnure.
Former u.s. senator mark pryor sits down with the show this half hour to share his thoughts on president trump, healthcare, tom cotton, and a variety of topics.
We begin here in the capitol city.
From the frustration over state control of the little rock school district has been boiling over for some parents, teachers and lawmakers.
A rare town hall at the capital thursday yielded a few solid answers from the department of joining us this morning is state representative frederick love.
Thanks for joining us.
>> thanks for having me.
>> welcome back to the show.
You were one of the lawmakers involved with thursday night's forum.
There was a lack of local control and charter schools, and last thursday's discussion was really kind of nothing new, but some of the parents question spoke with, they really didn't get the answers they were looking for the so what would you maybe tell them in terms of trying to keep applying that pressure on the department of education?
>> well, first of all, i wanted to say this i'm glad that the parents are getting involved, and that's the case-- i mean, he's been for years, we haven't had that local control i mean, the essence of government, the essence of taxation is local control.
You want to be in control of how your tax dollars are spent and how your kids are being educated.
And so to that point, i am glad that the parents are still staying involved and they need to continue to apply that pressure to the board of education and to the arkansas department of education, because they are concerned about how their children are being educate, but they also want to take part in that educational system.
And i believe that when you don't have a school board and things are happening, i just feel kind of at a loss.
But i'm glad they're staying engaged.
>> and then how do they keep applying that pressure, hoe?
How to they make their voices officered.
Think number one, i e continue to have forums like we did, i mean, and i thank senator elliott.
Senator elliott the actually spearheaded the gathering of that forum and all of the legislators came together, and then also, the school board, the state board also participated, but senator elliott led that and other legislators jumped in, and we're trying to move that needle.
But most of all, just trying to be there for the people, because when you don't have a school board, you don't have that voice.
>> and then one of the voices that we actually heard from thursday night was commissioner johnny keith, and here's kind of a little bit of what he had to say.
>> the holistic view of the district is what i was looking at, not just 49.5% combined score math and literacy, because that was the objective with the takeover was to get the district, the six schools in the district above that academic distress.
>> here's kind of where the six schools stand.
So three have been able to do that, but three are kind of still under this academic distress.
So when is it a good time, then, for the district to go back to local control?
Like do we keep waiting?
>> well, here's what i've always said to the state board of education.
Number one, the schools were always on the state board of education control.
And so when the state board took over the entire district, they had control of those six schools anyway.
So we were planning on having an improvement plan all along.
And so for the state board of education just to take the entire district, that was something that i don't believe was necessary.
And i've even posed this question.i said, can you all nok with the school board to ensure that things are carried out the way that you like?
And they refused at that point in time.
So it's kind of confusing on how we could make progress and then local control cannot, you know, take that over.
And so, you know, i've reached out to the state board of education myself and told them, i said, you know, when is enough enough?
When is it time to reinstate local control so that people can get back to the business of actually educating the children?
>> so commissioner key didn't really give a timeline on that.
Do you foresee a sort of timeline?
Will we wait until all section schools are up to par?
>> you know what?
I will say it like this.
There are other districts with more schools in academic distress than little rock, and so there's something else that's going on here.
And while i am pleased with the progress that the schools have made, i believe that they would have still made that progress if the school district hadn't taken over or we haven't suspended the school board.
So while i'm pleased, i still think that the local control needs to be turned back over to the people.
>> what else is going on, do you think?
Why little rock?
>> well, little rock, if you really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, there's a charter school movement going on.
And while i'm just not against charter schools, i think they do have their place, the essence of it is it's business.
I mean, this is business.
This is funding.
And so when you have a charter school movement as aggressive as is going on in little rock, it begins to erode the educational system.
Little rock was now down to 24,000 students.
You have charter schools popping up.
Just a couple of weeks ago, they were, i believe, two more.
And so i think if you continuously go down this path be it's going to erode the educational system even further.
And so i believe that's what's going on.
>> all right.
Let's take a little break from education.
>> you were actually one of the proponents, of course, of fighting the split of mlk and the lee holidays.
>> so now that that's set in stone in arkansas, there's all of this stuff going on at the federal level now, across the country, of all of these, you know, this big push to take down confederate monuments, and your state party put out a statement even calling for all of the arkansas monuments to come down.
And so is there a proper way to do this or what do you think needs to be done?
>> well, number one, i do think that the monuments need to be removed.
I never thought that-- you know, there's parts of history in which we just shouldn't celebrate.
And those are parts of history i don't believe we should celebrate.
Monuments and symbols, you know, they matter.
And what do you-- what it says to people when you have a confederate statue is that we kind of disregard, you know, how you feel about things.
And i think that's an important symbol that needs to be taken down in a state.
And two or three weeks ago i was down in the southern legislative conference and in mississippi we were having the same conversation, and so symbols mean things.
And we need to be proactive in actually removing those statues, and i don't think that they should be destroyed.
By no means.
But i think that there is a proper way to actually still respect what other people consider their history now.
So i don't want to destroy them, but there's a proper way to deal with it and respect all parties.
>> and that is a conversation we'll continue to have at the state and federal levels?
>> representative love, thanks for joining us.
We appreciate it.
>> thanks for having me.
>> after a quick break, former u.s. senator mark pryor will jonas and discuss his toughest votes in the two terms, including the healthcare vote that he thinks may have cost him his seat.
You're watching capitol view on sunday morning.
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Sunday morning talk, focused on the political scene in arkansas.
>> welcome back to capitol view.
Republicans completed their takeover of arkansas three years ago.
Not just in state wise offices in the legislature, but at the federal level as well.
And in came tom cotton, out was two term senator mark pryor.
He he's still in washington, though, and has time to reflect on why he lost and what's happening now.
Our very own drew petrimoulx recently sat down with senator pryor to discuss that and much more.
>> i want to start off kind of going back to your time here in washington in the senate, starting in i guess 2003 to 2015.
And i wanted to hit on some of the big issues.
Obviously this wasn't the start of hyper-partisanship then, but i don't think february think it got any better while you were here.
>> partisanship was getting worse every year that i was here and we were able to handle a lot of big issues.
Most of those were in the earlier part of the time i was in washington and getting harder and harder to get any bipartisan consensus over the years, and now it's harder still.
So that's not good for the country.
>> why do you think that is?
Obviously, you come from a political family.
Your father was the governor and senator.
You spent a significant portion of your life and saw that deterioration.
People have differences here.
What is ah year near any.
>> i think there are a lot of reasons for it.
And politics has changed a lot since my dad was up here.
I grew up in arkansas going around the state.
My dad was congressman, was governor, was in the seven the at.
So i really did grow up around it.
And i have seen it change a lot.
I think some of it is just the money that's involved now.
And it's not just the money that are in the campaigns.
There's way too much in the campaigns.
But there's also now all this dark money, you know?
You'll run for office and you may, you know, have a nice campaign budget to spend, but then some independent group comes out or maybe a family comes out and they're spending three times what you're spending.
And it's really corrupt the system.
I think what it's done is it's made it harder and harder to get things done.
Honestly, the pressure is now to kowtow to those super-funders, those mega funders, and it's not good, and the people are naturally frustrated, because they feel like congress isn't listening to them.
Well, guess what?
Congress isn't listening to them.
A lot of them aren't, at least.
They're listening to these big mega donors who are funding their campaigns, who are make them or break them.
>> the financial crisis, what stem cells out in your mind most?
Because i know that lawmakers are being briefed kind of minute by minute about how serious the situation was getting.
How do you reflect on that?
>> you know, that was a very scary moment.
We were on the precipice, we were just right on the edge of a global depression.
And that's not an exaggeration.
People, i think, don't realize how bad it could have been, because we didn't let it be bad.
And the we, the people that came around and saved the global economy, was the american taxpayer.
That's who saved it.
And the taxpayer, we're still paying for it.
We added to our deficit, our national debt to do it, but it was the right thing to do.
The united states, once again, good up and stabilized the world economy.
It was the right thing to.
Do it was painful and controversial.
I have people still that criticize me and criticize all of us for supporting that.
It was absolutely the right thing to do.
One of the most memorable moments in that process was we had an all senators meeting win night, and we had the chairman.
Fed and the secretary of treasury come in and tell us that if we didn't pass this bill, which ultimately became tarp, if we didn't pass this bill, then the stock market would collapse.
>> did they it tell you anything about what that would mean?
>> well, it would change everything, obviously.
You know, honestly, i think that the united states was at that moment in time, we had a choice, we were either going to stand up and be the global leader, economic leader, or we were going to hand the reins to china.
And that's part of what that was about.
I'm absolutely certain i did the right thing.
It was a hard vote, but we did the right thing and we shouldered the responsibility.
We're tell not out of it completely, you know?
There's still a lot of ripple effects that are going from that.
But that economic crisis was a true crisis.
We averted disaster we the ken is of our teeth.
So that was a pretty scary moment, and i guess the other big moment would have been healthcare.
>> that's what i was going to ask next.
>> you know, lets me say this about healthcare.
You know, i supported the affordable care act.
I voted for it.
It was the better than any alternative.
There was nothing else on the table that was being discussed that was anywhere closer to that.
So i voted for it.
I knew it wasn't perfect when i voted for it.
I knew it would be controversial and it was.
Always has been.
But let me say this.
You can go back to, you know, richard nixon.
Every president has promised they're going to do something about healthcare.
Everybody, almost literally everybody person ever running for the senate, running for the house promise they're going to do something about healthcare, and it was a moment where we could actually do something about healthcare.
I wish it was bipartisan.
Sure, i wish there were some changes in it.
But under the circumstances, we got the best bill passed we could pass, and my view on it is it was never intended to be something that would in granite that would never change.
The idea was to get something on the books and then come in and continued to adjust it to make sure that our healthcare system works for everybody.
>> you think you lost your seat over that vote?
>> i think the affordable care act, the obamacare vote with his a major part of me losing my seat.
No doubt about it.
It was never popular in arkansas.
Truth is, she did a big medicaid expansion and we've added 2 or 300 people to the insurance roles in our state, so in that way, it's been a success.
It's not perfect.
I mean be there's problems. you can talk to our governor now.
I know there's things he wants to fix, but i don't think most governors around the country want to see the medicaid expansion go away.
If we're going to provide healthcare to low income people, the most efficient, the best way to do it is to do it with medicaid expansion, because medicaid is the program that already exists.
You don't have to create anything new.
I just expand what you have.
So the medicaid expansion he think was a real game changer for arkansas.
>> when we come back, mark pryor shares his thoughts on the failed effort to repeal obamacare.
>> i didn't think that the republicans ever had the votes, because they really never had the plan that was clearly better than the affordable care act.
>> hear what he hopes will happen next and how he views the trump white house.
You're watching capitol view on sunday morning.
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You're watching capitol view, political talk focused on the political scene in arkansas.
>> welcome back to can cap.
Elect democrats have opposed president trump on verily every major issue since he took office seven months ago.
But it's those who know him might expect, former u.s. senator mark pryor has a more moderate stance on the 478thpresident.
Here's part 2 of his conversation withdrew drew.
>> how did you watch this latest debate over healthcare, these late night votes coming down to the last minute, knowing that you sacrificed a lot on that vote?
Was it-- what was it like watching that for you?
>> well, i really-- i don't want to sound accept technical, but i didn't think that the republicans ever had the votes, because they really never had the plan that was clearly better than the affordable care act or better than obamacare.
They just complained about it for eight years, but they've never offered a solution, and he wish they would.
I mean, i really wish this they'd come together and come up with something they can offer that is superior to what they have now.
They should win the nobel prize if they do that.
I want them to do that.
I've never seen that coming from them.
And right now, a lot of people also want to get tax reform done, and you know, if healthcare is one-seventh of the u.s. economy, taxes are 100% of the u.s. economy, everything is impacted by taxes.
So it's seven times harder to do that than healthcare.
It's going to be a challenge.
It really does take presidential leadership and bipartisan cooperates in the house and senate to get they of those big things done.
>> so we're talking about two things: the financial collapse and the, quote/unquote, bailout after that, and the aca.
These are two the of the things that kind of led to this monumental change in politics.
2008, barak obama wins the presidency.
You're not even challenged in arkansas going to now we have a republican takeover of arkansas.
Republican takeover of congress.
>> well, you know, it's true.
The state has gone very red.
The question is, is that a short-term or a long-term?
And nobody knows the answer to that.
There are people in arkansas that have voted democratic all of their lives and in the last few cycles they voted republican.
So will they revert back and kind of come home to the democratic party?
I don't know.
I think it's up to democrats to make a good case for them to come back.
I think if they make a good case, they will come back.
>> i wanted to ask you about the president, but first, what do you think of the job that tom cotton has done so far?
>> you know, he's a completely different kind of senator than i was, and i'm not in a good position, because he and i just-- we don't only have a philosophical disagreement leak a democratic versus republican view of things, but we just have a very different view of what the office is about.
>> mean something.
>> meaning, well, he was really there to represent arkansas and try to be a spokesman for arkansas and be an advocate up here for arkansas.
And again, he just has a different view.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
That's what the people voted for.
So that's what they want.
They want someone who is much more ideological and, you know, more driven along those lines, and that's okay.
That's what people voted for.
That's what they have.
So that's okay.
>> what do you make of the rise of trump?
>> you know, i think that with president trump in office, what you see is almost, i hate to say it, but almost a circus atmosphere.
One thing we need in the white house is we need stability.
We need the right person with the right team around him that can lead this nation in a very stable-- could be very dynamic way, but it also needs to be very stable, and we really haven't seen a lot of that from this president yet.
I'm optimistic that, you know, we'll turn it is corner here and with changing out some of the people around him, you know, we'll see some changes i hope.
>> you don't seem alarmed by president trump.
>> i'm concerned.
I guess when he won, and it was a shocking victory, i mean, everybody was stunned, everybody was surprised when he won, and when he won, i kind of went to bed that night thinking, okay, well, hopefully what he'll do is he'll revert back to the art of the deal donald trump, you know?
Where he'll come to washington and he'll make a deal with democrats and republicans, house and senate, and he'll work through this.
So far he has shown no inclination to do that.
And i hope with general kelly, who is running the white house now, chief of staff, and some of the other changes, i hope we get to that.
>> what do you make of charlotesville and the rise.
>> you know, it's so painful to me to see nazis walking around any of our cities anywhere, anywhere in america.
It's just so painful.
And it's shocking and very concerning.
I know that, you know, some of those people are angry.
I get it.
But there's no place for that.
There's no place for that.
And i just don't have-- i try to be tolerant of everybody, but i must say i don't have a lot of tolerance for hatred.
I just don't.
And it's hard to see what happened in charlotesville.
I don't want it all in any way to blame the president, but i do think what some of the republicans have said is this could be a time of healing.
This could be a time where the president could come in and really bring people together, and he's not done that.
>> should confederate monuments come down?
>> i think that's okay to bring some down.
I'm a proud arkansan.
We were part of the confederacy.
And we shouldn't run away from our history.
I don't mean that.
But if a confederate monument stands for slavery or stands for a system where we have second class citizens, then they ought to come down.
Just like the rebel flag.
In that's what that means, it ought to come down.
>> and our thanks to senator pryor for joining us on the show.
And we're back to wrap it all up after this.
You're watching capitol view on sunday morning.
And you're watching capitol view, sunday morning talk focused on the political scene in arkansas.
>> and that's it for today's show.
We want to know your thoughts on all of the issues we discussed during capitol view, among the many others affecting our state.
Make sure you use the hashtag my capitol view on witter and facebook during and after the show so we can continue the conversation together.
We're back with a new capitol view next week.
Enjoy the rest of your weekends.
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