Mike Huckabee is recognized nationally as a leader
|"How could I get up there and say, 'People, we've got to do better,' when I was the poster child for everything that was wrong? I've always believed leaders don't ask others to do what they're unwilling to do." |
Mike Huckabee is recognized as a national leader in the areas of education reform and health care reform. In July of 2006, Huckabee completed his term as chairman of the National Governors Association where he championed his message of Healthy America. Huckabee served in recent years as one of the NGA's lead governors on the issues of welfare reform and Medicaid reform.
Mike also served a two-year chairmanship of the Education Commission of the States, a highly respected education policy organization. As his chairman's initiative, he led a movement to encourage the stability of art and music programs in public schools.
Last year, Governing magazine named Huckabee one of its Public Officials of the Year, and Time magazine named him one of the five best governors in America. In December, Huckabee also received the AARP’s Impact Award.
Because of Huckabee’s leadership to improve education, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia the governor’s alma mater has renamed its school of education the Michael D. Huckabee School of Education.
A significant part of his adult life was spent as a pastor and denominational leader. He became the youngest president ever of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the largest denomination in Arkansas. Huckabee led rapidly growing congregations in Pine Bluff and Texarkana.
Arkansas' ACTAAP system is widely hailed as one of the nation's best school accountability programs. Huckabee has pushed through reforms in Arkansas that have significantly expanded the availability of college scholarships, increased the number of charter schools and established new approaches to workforce education. His Smart Start initiative placed a heavy emphasis on reading and mathematics for students from kindergarten through the fourth grade. He then created Smart Step, a similar emphasis for students from the fifth through the eighth grades. Student scores on standardized tests have risen steadily since the creation of Smart Start and Smart Step.
In addition to his education reform efforts, Huckabee has been a leader in improving health care for Arkansans. He created the ARKids First program, a nationally recognized initiative that provides health insurance to tens of thousands of children who previously had no access to health insurance.
He also led a ballot initiative in 2000 that devotes all of the state's tobacco settlement money to improving the health of Arkansans. Arkansas is one of the few states spending all of its tobacco funds in this way.
Huckabee created the Healthy Arkansas initiative to encourage Arkansans to stop smoking, exercise more and eat healthier. He now has expanded that effort to the Healthy America program, which is his NGA chairman's initiative.
Huckabee's efforts to improve his own health have received national attention. Diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2003, he lost 110 pounds. In March 2005, Huckabee completed the Little Rock Marathon, and has since completed the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and The Road Runners Club of America named him its Southern Region Runner of the Year, and he was named USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week for the country.
Huckabee has partnered with former President Bill Clinton and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to fight childhood obesity, recently working with major food and beverage manufacturing companies to establish healthier guidelines for schools nationwide. Under these guidelines, only lower calorie and nutritious beverages will be sold to schools for consumption during the school day. This was the Alliance’s first industry agreement as part of its Healthy Schools Program, and it affects close to 54 million students across the country. President Clinton and Gov. Huckabee are co-chairmen of the Alliance.
In 1996 during his first months in office, Huckabee led the fight for Amendment 75 to the Arkansas Constitution. The amendment created a sales tax of one-eighth of a cent that benefits the state Department of Parks and Tourism, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission. Proceeds from the amendment have allowed Arkansas to build the finest system of state parks in the country along with a system of state-of-the-art nature centers operated by the Game and Fish Commission. The first of those nature centers at Pine Bluff was named after the governor in recognition of his conservation efforts.
Huckabee also has become known nationally for his focus on technology in state government. He created an automobile license renewal system that's a model for states across the country. He has supported other advancements that have made Arkansas a technology leader among the states. Brown University recognized Arkansas for being first in the country in on-line services.
Many Arkansans also have come to know Huckabee as the "highway governor." That's because he developed and led the campaign for a 1999 bond issue to totally rehabilitate the state's system of crumbling interstate highways. Arkansas is now completing the largest road construction project in its history, and two of its most major interstates were recently recognized by a national trucking magazine as the nation’s most improved just a few years after they were identified by the same organization as the nation’s worst interstates.
Huckabee, a fiscal conservative, pushed through the Arkansas Legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history. He led efforts to establish a Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights and created a welfare reform program that reduced the welfare rolls in the state by almost 50 percent.
In addition to being the past chairman of the National Governors Association and the Education Commission of the States, he's the immediate past president of the Council of State Governments. The CSG is the nation's only organization serving every elected and appointed official in all three branches of state government.
The Arkansas governor is extremely active in regional organizations. He's the immediate past state co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority. He was selected to the post by the governors of the other seven states that are part of the DRA -- Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky and Illinois.
Huckabee is a former chairman of the Southern Governors' Association, the Southern Regional Education Board, the Southern Growth Policies Board, the Southern Technology Council and the Southern International Trade Council.
Huckabee also is a former chairman of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission. The 37-state coalition develops energy policy and lobbies Congress on energy matters, serving as the voice of state government on energy issues.