In a press release issued this morning, State Rep. Andy Mayberry wants to abolish the office he seeks. Mayberry today released details of his plan to eliminate the position of lieutenant governor in Arkansas. He is a Republican candidate for the office and will compete in the May 20 primary election. Mayberry first announced in August 2013 that he would run for lieutenant governor.
“I know it’s unusual for a politician to say, ‘Cut my job,’ but that’s exactly what I hope to do,” Mayberry said. “The office of lieutenant governor has lived past its time. We can eliminate the position and reassign the duties of the office to other existing state office-holders. In the end, we can eliminate a layer of bureaucracy, we can make government smaller and more efficient, and we can save taxpayers about $400,000 per year, which is the most recent budget of that office’s operations.”
In Mayberry’s plan, the secretary of state would become first in the line of succession to be governor if he or she couldn’t fulfill the term.
“I believe the first person in the line of succession should be a Constitutional officer, elected statewide, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a lieutenant governor,” Mayberry said.
Mayberry said five other states do not have a lieutenant governor, and that the secretary of state is first in the line of succession to be governor in three of those. He said there are four additional states that combine the role of lieutenant governor with other offices.
If elected, Mayberry said he will advocate for the 90th General Assembly to refer a proposed Constitutional amendment to voters for the 2016 general election. If the voters approve, the amendment would abolish the office of lieutenant governor and would change the line of succession, as well as reassign other duties of the lieutenant governor.
“Who can better advocate for elimination of the office than the person who holds it?” Mayberry said. “That takes the ‘politics’ away as an obstacle. It doesn’t appear that someone is targeting a particular individual, but instead the focus is truly on making government run better.”
Under Mayberry’s proposal, the governor would have the discretion to retain his or her authority when out of state, or to temporarily delegate that responsibility to the secretary of state, if needed. Currently, the governor is required when out of state to relinquish authority to the lieutenant governor.
“That is archaic law,” Mayberry said. “Given the advances in today’s communications technology, I believe the governor can still be fully capable of being the governor while having lunch across the river in Memphis, Tenn.”
In addition to filling in for the governor, the other chief mandated responsibility of the lieutenant governor is to preside over the state Senate. In Mayberry’s plan, those duties would be handled by the Senate Pro Tempore.
“That’s the way it was handled in the most recent fiscal session, and everything went quite smoothly. It already works in a similar manner in the House of Representatives where the Speaker of the House presides,” Mayberry said. “I believe the transition of that responsibility would be seamless.”
Arkansas’ most recent lieutenant governor resigned effective Feb. 1. The state legislature then voted overwhelmingly to keep the office vacant for almost a year until the November 2014 general election winner could assume duties in January 2015.
“A lot of people have asked recently, ‘Do we really need that office?’” Mayberry said. “It was, and is, a good question. As long as we have the office, it’s essential that we have a good candidate in it because that person is literally a heartbeat away from being governor. But do we really need the office? I don’t think so.”
Mayberry said one of the planks in his campaign platform from the beginning has been a focus on efficiency in government.
“I plan to use the resources of that office to sit down with front-line employees throughout state government to identify waste and inefficiencies,” Mayberry said. “Some of those employees likely see inefficiency every day but have never been in a position to do anything about it. We’ll take their recommendations to the legislature and to the governor as ideas to give taxpayers a bigger bang for their buck.
“But if our goal really is to streamline government,” Mayberry said, “then we have to take an introspective look into our own backyard. Could we do without the office of lieutenant governor? I believe we can. I want to be Arkansas’ next and last lieutenant governor.”