Do you have a tip for making Arkansas state government more efficient or cost-effective?
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Featured Articles

OpenTheBooks.Com: Legislator Charged With Failing To Pay Income Taxes Or File Returns Received $118,988 In Salary Over Three Years

(July 2018) State Rep. Michael "Mickey" Gates, R-Hot Springs, charged recently with failing to pay state income taxes or file returns was paid $78,800 in legislative salary (2016-17), and is receiving $40,188 this year, according to OpenTheBooks.com, a non-profit that advances government transparency.


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Performance-Based Pay Plan Advances

(June 2018) Two reports published 18 years apart set the stage for the performance-based pay plan advanced in the past year by policymakers.


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OpenTheBooks.Com: Little Rock District Paid 102 Administrators More Than State Leaders

(June 2018) It pays to be a Little Rock School District employee more than a top state official. The Little Rock School District, the subject of a 2015 state takeover paid 102 officials more than $89,301, the new annual salary of the Arkansas' Auditor of State, Secretary of State and Treasurer.


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Agencies Adopt Strategic Plans

(May 2018) Sixteen state agencies reviewed by the Efficiency Project in 2016 have adopted Recommendation No. 3, which called on agencies to develop strategic plans and post them online in a format "accessible to citizens."


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OpenTheBooks.Com: Failing District Spent $8.3 Million On Salaries In 2016

(May 2018) The Dollarway School District, taken over by the state in 2015, spent $8,309,639 on employee salaries in 2016, according to public records compiled by OpenTheBooks.com, a non-profit that advances government transparency as a policy goal.


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Agencies Amend Mission Statements

(May 2018) Eleven Arkansas state agencies have amended their mission or core value statements to advance the idea of efficiency in their operations, according to public records. The Efficiency Project, a Policy Foundation project made the recommendation in a 2016 report.


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DFA Reduces Outstanding Receivables

(May 2018) The state Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) continues to reduce tax debts owed Arkansas, recovering $132.3 million in outstanding receivables in calendar year 2017. This is $21 million greater than the amount ($111.3 million) collected by DFA in calendar year 2016.


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County Budget Transparency

(April 2018) Only eight Arkansas counties post annual budgets online for citizens while others publish an annual appropriation notice in the paper of record, a legal requirement. Every county should post its budget in an easily-accessible format. This lack of transparency can be illustrated by comparing Arkansas counties with those with similar names in other states.


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Modified Distribution

(April 2018) A new Arkansas Department of Education School Index report assigns twice as many 'A' grades to traditional high schools as failing ('F') marks. ADE also reported more than three times as many 'A' grades to traditional elementary schools as failing marks. A standard distribution would report a similar number of 'A' and 'F' schools.


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Federal Tax Cut Provision Advances Arkansas School Choice

(March 2018) A provision of the recently-enacted Republican federal tax cut, meant to increase competition in the delivery of education services was approved by the state legislature in mid-March and became law on March 20.


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529s & Middle-class Arkansas Households

(March 2018) Critics argue only the rich benefit from school choice but records show more than 30 Arkansas private schools charge tuition less than the top individual benefit ($5,000) of 529 savings plans. Another six schools enroll younger students at similar rates. About 7,500 students attend these schools.


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The Policy Foundation And School Choice

(March 2018) The Policy Foundation was established in 1995 as a nonpartisan, 501(c)(c) non-profit think tank. For nearly a quarter-century the Foundation has advanced market-based ideas to the people of Arkansas. The Foundation advances these ideas in various ways, including public forums, news media reports, special projects, and research posted on its website. One idea is school choice, which the Policy Foundation has advanced as a process to increase competition within Arkansas' current model of education.


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OpenTheBooks: Salaries Total $38.9 Million In Six 'Low-Performing' East Arkansas Districts

(February 2018) Arkansas taxpayers spent $38.9 million on employee salaries in six low-performing east Arkansas K-12 public school districts, while policymakers fought expanded school choice for nearly 80,000 students not attending traditional public schools, according to OpenTheBooks.com and public records.


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Gov. Hutchinson Proposes Income Tax Cut

(February 12, 2018) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson proposed using efficiencies and savings from the transformation of state government to reduce the top state individual income tax rate from 6.9 to 6.0 percent in 2019.


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Arkansas Has Second Highest Corporate Income Tax Rate In Region

(February 2018) Arkansas is among states with the second highest top corporate income tax rate in the 12-state southeast region, according to 2017 data from the Federation of State Tax Administrators.


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Arkansas School Choice Market

(January 2018) Records show the Arkansas school choice market continues to grow at a high rate, expanding from an estimated 66,627 K-12 students (2013) to 79,325 (2017). This niche educational market includes students eligible to participate in public school choice programs, capped at three percent (3%) of enrollment; and homeschooled, private and charter students.


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Pulaski County School Choice Market

(January 2018) Records show the school choice market in Pulaski County totaled nearly 19,000 K-12 students in 2017.


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Every Dime. Online. In Real Time

(December 2017) OpenTheBooks CEO Adam Andrzejewski speaking at Harvard Law School

Efficiency Project Delivers Results
State Receivables Decline $22.1 Million

(December 2017) One year after the Efficiency Project recommended reducing more than $300 million in outstanding state receivables a Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) pilot program has collected $22.1 million. The action occurred after Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced in late 2015 that the Policy Foundation would work to identify efficiencies.


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Arkansas Has Second Highest Income Tax Rate In Region

(December 2017) Arkansas' top income tax rate (6.9%) is the second-highest in the 12-state southeast region, trailing only South Carolina (7.0%), according to the Federation of State Tax Administrators. The organization serves the principal tax collection agencies of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Philadelphia, and New York.


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Arkansas Employment Growth Trails National Average

(December 2017) Nine years into a national economic expansion Arkansas' economy trails the national average in jobs creation, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics records.


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Arkansas School Choice And Finance In The 21st Century (Oct. 17 Forum)

(October 2017) The Arkansas Policy Foundation and Reason Foundation cordially invite you to a panel and workshop event, titled “Arkansas School Choice and School Finance in the 21st Century”


The event includes a panel discussion on “National Trends in School Choice and Implications for Arkansas” with Rep. Jim Dotson and Arkansas Parent Network’s Virginia Walden Ford and a panel on “The Future of School Finance and Implications for Arkansas” with the Reason Foundation’s Education Director Lisa Snell and Reason Policy Analyst, Aaron Smith. Lunch will be followed by a keynote address by Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin.


Hear from Arkansas leaders about the landscape for school choice and more student-centered funding and opportunities for future growth. In addition, Reason Foundation education policy analysts will share national trends toward pioneering systems to fund students and schools more transparently, equitably, and flexibly.


Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Time: 9 AM - 1:00 PM (lunch provided) – Registration starts at 8:30

Location: Heifer Village, 1 World Ave., Little Rock, AR 72202

You can register online at Eventbrite: Arkansas School Choice and Finance in the 21st Century

You can also RSVP via email (kaza@arkansaspolicyfoundation.org) or (lsnell@reason.org) by Friday October 13.

You can also RSVP by calling (501) 537-0825.


Transportation Department Adopts Performance-based Pay Policy

(September 2017) The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) has advanced a performance-based pay program, a reform first recommended in 1998 by the Murphy Commission, a Policy Foundation project.


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DFA Acts On Efficiency Project Recommendations

(August 2017) The state Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) is acting on nine major recommendations from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) a leading international management consulting firm retained by the Policy Foundation in 2016 to study the agency.


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Gov. Hutchinson Seeks Action On Efficiency Project Proposal

(August 2017) Freshman Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked a state panel to recommend changes to a K-12 public school spending practice criticized last year by the Policy Foundation's Efficiency Project.


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State Efficiency Reviews: Costs & Projected Savings

(July 2017) Management consultants conducted efficiency reviews in Kansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina this decade, at costs ranging from $2.6-to-$4.2 million. Volunteers led an earlier Kansas project. A Policy Foundation review of published reports in these states found a broad range of estimated savings ($9.3 million to $2.7 billion). To-date savings vary by state, according to state executives and budget officials.


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Tom Easterly Named 'Unsung Hero' Of 2017

(June 2017) Tom Easterly, a Murphy Commission Education Team volunteer who later played a role in a landmark Arkansas State Supreme Court decision has been named the Policy Foundation's 'Unsung Hero' of 2017.


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Efficiency Project Recommendation Approved

(May 2017) Mission creep describes the tendency of government programs to expand beyond their original purpose. One Arkansas example is a 1997 program that pays incentive bonuses to teachers that obtain national-board certification and work in high-poverty K-12 public schools. The program grew over two decades into a $16 million program that also pays bonuses to teachers in other schools.


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Arkansas Jobs Creation Trails U.s. Average

(May 2017) Arkansas state legislators cut taxes for low-income Arkansans and military retirees in this year's 91st General Assembly but failed to reduce taxes on job creators. The result? Arkansas' job creation rate trails the U.S. average by a wide margin nearly eight years into the third longest economic expansion in U.S. history.


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Education Savings Accounts

Medical Volunteers & State Lines

(April 2017) Arkansas is a rural state that suffers from a shortage of medical professionals. One oft-discussed idea would assign advanced nurse practitioners a greater role. A lesser-known idea allows medical professionals to volunteer across state lines.


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Dental Proposal Floated

(April 2017) State Rep. Deborah Ferguson, D-West Memphis, sponsored HB 1255 in the 91st General Assembly (2017) to 'Create A Temporary Charitable Dental License.' The measure would have allowed the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners to " license a dentist who practices for no more than four (4) consecutive days per calendar year in the State of Arkansas without compensation if the dentist has applied for and received a temporary license from the board." Ferguson practiced dentistry for 25 years.


Arkansas Organizational Charts

(April 2017) The Efficiency Project compiled organizational charts to help Arkansas citizens understand state government's structure.
One Arkansas citizen told the Project that state government "should standardize department organizational charts and have these on a website ... My time in the Army taught me chain of command. If you don't know the structure of the chain a person would have a hard time knowing who to contact."


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Arkansas Needs Good Samaritans

(March 2017) The Affordable Care Act does not mandate dental and vision care for adults. Charitable organizations like Remote Area Medical (RAM) can organize free clinics that provide this care in three states (Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee) that border Arkansas. But the medical and dental professionals that volunteer for RAM are forbidden from serving as Good Samaritans in Arkansas. Learn more about RAM's work in this 2008 segment from CBS' '60 Minutes.'




Gov. Hutchinson Names Efficiency Panel

(February 19, 2017) Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today the founding of the Transformation Advisory Board, which will continue to "examine the recommendations for potential efficiencies and cost-savings from a report by the Arkansas Policy Foundation released last year."


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Bank Department Adds 'Efficiency' To Mission Statement

(February 2017) The Arkansas State Bank Department has amended its mission statement to include efficiency after a Policy Foundation report recommended the action. The revised statement explains the Bank Department's mission is to "efficiently allocate Department resources to maintain a legal and regulatory structure for Arkansas that provides the public with convenient, safe and competitive banking, which allows for economic development within this State."


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Efficiency Project in Wall Street Journal

(January 2017) The Wall Street Journal, America's leading commercial daily published a column in its January 14 edition that discussed the Arkansas state government Efficiency Project.


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Little Rock Students Need School Choice

(January 2017) School choice and charter schools continue to advance since the Little Rock School District was taken over by the state two years ago for academic distress. The Succeed Scholarship Program was created by the state legislature and it's probable another tax credit or voucher program will be established in this year's session. Student demand is so great there are nine open-enrollment charter school systems operating in Little Rock, according to the state Department of Education.


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Phase Two of Efficiency Project Launched

(December 2016) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched phase two of the state government Efficiency Project by naming Amy Fecher to head his new Office of Transformation. The Office will "drive the implementation of state efficiencies and streamline state operations" using ideas from the Project's first phase, launched in December 2015 at the Policy Foundation's 20th anniversary recognition reception for citizen volunteers.


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Efficiency Project Identifies 184 Initiatives At State Departments

(November 2016) The Policy Foundation's Efficiency Project has identified 184 cost-saving initiatives underway at Arkansas state departments. The initiatives are listed in a report that has been delivered to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The dollar amount range from department-identified efficiencies is $7.3-to-$13.5 million. The Efficiency Project makes 60 policy recommendations that will save Arkansas taxpayers more than $50 million. The bulk of these savings are at the departments of Finance and Administration ($15.5 million) and Education ($27.5 million).


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Arkansas Efficiency Project Report


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Fifteen Private Schools Approved for Succeed Scholarship Program

(August 2016) Fifteen Arkansas private schools have received approval from the state Department of Education (ADE) to participate in the Succeed Scholarship Program, Arkansas' first non-public school choice program. According to the Little Rock-based Reform Alliance, the program "is open to any Private School Applicants that are accredited."


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Cato Recommendations For Arkansas

(August 2016) The Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, has issued its annual 'Freedom in the 50 States' report. The report's fiscal and education recommendations include the following ideas: Fiscal: Cut the state sales and use tax, which is high. Let local governments vary property taxes to meet local needs and desires, reducing state aid for education and other purposes. Personal: Enact a generous tax credit for contributions to private scholarships for K–12 education. The Cato report is available at: http://www.freedominthe50states.org/overall/arkansas


School Choice Explained

(July 2016) The Policy Foundation will hold an event in late July explaining school choice programs. Arkansas became the 25th state to enact a school choice program in 2015. The idea originated with Dr. Milton Friedman (1912-2006), the 1976 Nobel Economics Laureate. Dr. Friedman was born July 31, 1912, in Brooklyn, N.Y.


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Citizenship Advances School Choice

(June 2016) School choice gives students the freedom to attend schools or obtain educational services that best fit their individual and family needs. These can include public, private or home-schools depending on the circumstance. School choice has advanced to a significant degree since the Policy Foundation raised the issue in 1995. The citizenship of Arkansans has advanced school choice, with foundations playing a key leadership role.


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School Choice Market Continues to Expand

(June 2016) Records show the Arkansas school choice market continues to expand, growing expanded from an estimated 66,627 K-12 students in 2013 to 70,533 in 2015. The niche market includes students participating in public school choice programs, and homeschooled, private and charter students.


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Operating Expenditures Exceed CPI

(May 2016) Total operating expenditures at four Arkansas state departments have increased at average annual rates greater than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since the last recession ended in mid-2009. These actual agency expenditures increased at annual rates ranging from 3.8% (Community Corrections) to 1.9% (Education Department, Public School Fund) versus 1.5% inflation (CPI)


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Weak Economic Expansion

(April 2016) The U.S. economy is in the seventh year of expansion yet key indicators suggest the recovery is weak by historical standards


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Arkansas State Spending How To Save More Than $150 Million

(April 2016) The Policy Foundation noted more than a decade ago that state spending growth linked to an economic metric such as the Consumer Price Index would save tax dollars. CPI has increased at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent in the economic expansion that started in 2009. Yet spending increases at higher percentage rates at five departments in pending Fiscal Session Budget Requests when 2015-16 (Budget) is compared to 2016-17 (Legislative Recommendation). These departments are Community Corrections, Corrections, Education, Health, and Human Services.


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Benton County Leads Arkansas Income Rank

(March 2016) Revised federal data show Benton County achieved an all-time Arkansas high (153.2%) in per capita personal income in 2012.


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Choice And Charters Should Expand In Little Rock

(February 2016) School choice and charter schools have advanced since the Little Rock School District was taken over by the state one year ago. The Succeed Scholarship Program, Arkansas' first school choice law was enacted by the state legislature but awaits funding. The E-STEM and Lisa Academy charter systems are also proposing to expand in Little Rock.


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Governor Hutchinson Memorandum State Government Efficiency Project

(January 2016) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued the following memorandum December 17 to directors of state agencies, offices, and departments. The memorandum discusses the Policy Foundation's Efficiency Review of state government, announced the same day


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Mission Statement

The Arkansas Policy Foundation is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that analyzes the impact of public policy on Arkansas and makes recommendations.

The Foundation emphasizes the importance of tax policy and education reform.

Principles of tax policy: Arkansas would benefit from comprehensive, pro-growth reform; Arkansans are not under-taxed; taxes and rates do matter to entrepreneurs; dynamic scoring of tax changes and effects provides benefits.

Education reform: The Foundation seeks intellectual honesty and complete openness in reporting the lack of academic progress in Arkansas' school system.

The Foundation encourages citizenship.

Governor ASA Hutchinson Governor Mike Beebe Governor Mike Huckabee


Looking For Archived Policy Research?
Visit http://arkansaseconomics.org/


Arkansas Entrepreneurs Create Hope

A significant number of Arkansas' best-known entrepreneurs started their businesses in recessions.Click Here.

Policy Accomplishments

Following is a list of policy accomplishments occurring in Arkansas since the Policy Foundation was established 23 years ago as a market-based think tank: Click Here.

Visibility: Media Highlights

"Young Citizen Makes A Difference"

Log Cabin Democrat

August 2, 2018


"Citizenship works"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Benton County Daily Record

Northwest Arkansas Times

August 2, 2018


"State's 3.8 percent jobless rate hanging on for fifth-straight month"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Benton County Daily Record

Northwest Arkansas Times

July 21, 2018


"Term limits and experience"

Jonesboro Sun

July 1, 2018


"Unemployment rates among black teens in Arkansas is twice as high as any other ethnicity"


CBS affiliate, Little Rock

May 14, 2018


"Hutchinson touts reorganization efforts at town hall"

May 10, 2018

El Dorado News-Times


"Analysts note sag in state job growth; unemployment rate remains at 3.8%"

April 21, 2018

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Benton County Daily Record

Northwest Arkansas Times


"Stronger FOIA laws save Arkansas taxpayers money"


April 11, 2018


"Governor's aim to reduce number of state agencies has some retiree fund trustees worried"

April 7, 2018

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record


"Let the sun shine"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

March 31, 2018


"Considering the UBI"

Regulation Magazine

Spring 2018

Regulation: Spring 2018


"Jobless rate up to 3.8% for state"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

March 24, 2018


"State's jobless rate stays put at 3.7%"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

March 13, 2018


"Transparency needed in distressed districts"

Jonesboro Sun

March 11, 2018


"Business and efficient government"

Arkansas Business

February 26, 2018


"Arkansas' jobless rate holds at 3.7%"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

January 24, 2018


"County buoys state income rankings"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

November 28, 2017


"Support Ag Department efficiency"

Jonesboro Sun

November 27, 2018


"Arkansas' out-of-job rate rises to 3.6%;analyst notes lag in work seekers"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

November 18, 2017


"A better economic policy than simply avoiding last place"

Talk Business

November 2017


"Arkansas jobless rate holds at 3.5%"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

October 21, 2017


"Measuring Arkansas' high-tech employment"

Talk Business

September 5, 2017


"Efficiency In Order"

September 1, 2017

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Benton County Daily Record

Northwest Arkansas Times


"State's Jobless rate Still at 3.4%"

August 19, 2017

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Benton County Daily Record

Northwest Arkansas Times


"Finding Ways to Do More With Less"

Government Technology

December 9, 2016

Finding Ways to Do More With Less Is Job No. 1 for Arkansas' New Chief Transformation Officer


"State's June jobless rate holds at 3.4%"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

July 22, 2017


"Driving Government Efficiencies"

Arkansas Business

May 8, 2017


"State's jobless rate again at record low"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Benton County Daily Record

Northwest Arkansas Times

March 25, 2017


"Citizens and Dictionaries"

Jonesboro Sun

March 20, 2017


"Governor creates board to find cost savings"

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Northwest Arkansas Times

Benton County Daily Record

February 21, 2017


"Arkansas governor forms government efficiency panel"

Arkansas News Bureau

Southwest Times Record


"Arkansas governor announces board to find cost savings"

KATV 7-Little Rock

KTHV 11-Little Rock

KHBS 40/29-Fort Smith

McClatchy News Service

Yell County-Record


"Griffin and Shepherd will be part of governor's 'Transformation Advisory Board'"

Magnolia Reporter


"Hutchinson touts government 'transformation.' But is less more?"

Arkansas Times

February 20, 2017


"Arkansas Governor Announces Board to Find Cost Savings"

U.S. News and World Reports


"Arkansas Supermajority Takes on the Golden State's"

Wall Street Journal

January 25, 2017


"A New Arkansas Supermajority to Take On Government Bloat"

Wall Street Journal

January 14, 2017


2016 Media Highlights

2015 Media Highlights

2014 Media Highlights

2013 Media Highlights

2012 Media Highlights

2011 Media Highlights

2010 Media Highlights

2009 Media Highlights

2008 Media Highlights

Arkansas Charter Schools

A 1996 Policy Foundation study played a key role launching the Arkansas charter school movement.Click Here.

Arkansas Property Tax Appeal Information

Read Online

Socialism Doesn't Work

Friedrich A. Hayek taught at the Univ. of Arkansas-Fayetteville in the early 1950s. He was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Economics. His insight? Socialism doesn't work due to the lack of a price system.

Making A Difference In Arkansas

The Arkansas Council on Economic Education (ACEE) is a private, non-profit, non-partisan, educational organization founded in 1962 to promote economic literacy in Arkansas.

Peer-Reviewed Research

The Arkansas Policy Foundation is an educational organization that regularly submits its research to scholarly journals that use a peer review process.

Journal Publications

“Michigan’s MEGA Tax Credits: Hayek’s Insight”

Economic Development Quarterly

Cleveland: Sage Publications


"Wolverines, Razorbacks and Skyscrapers"

Transaction Periodicals Consortium,

Rutgers University

Winter 2010

"The Austrian School in the NBER's Business Cycle Studies"


Summer 2010

'Regulation of financial derivatives in the U.S. code'
Derivatives Use, Trading and Regulation
(London, U.K.) Palgrave Macmillian Ltd.
February 2006
Read Online

'Deflation & Economic Growth'
(Piscataway, N.J.) Transaction Periodicals Consortium, Rutgers University
Summer 2006

Policy Foundation research on this topic cited by Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe (Opinion No. 2005-291)

'A review of state statutes regulating financial derivatives in the USA'
Pensions, an International Journal
(London, U.K.) Palgrave Macmillian Ltd.
Read Online

Non-Profit Resources

(Including Form 990s)