October 25, 2006 Edition

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Halter makes stop in LawCo.

County Sheriff Dan Ellison (left) visits with lieutenant governor candidate Bill Halter about the needs of Lawrence County. Halter visited Lawrence County on Thursday while he was in the Northeast Arkansas area.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt

Bill Halter was in Lawrence County on Thursday while doing some campaigning in the Northeast Arkansas area and shared some of his plans and visions for the state of Arkansas with The TD.

Halter, who is a fourth generation Arkansan, said he was the product of a typical Arkansas family. His father was a small businessman and his mother was a nurse. He has a brother and a sister, who have made him an uncle seven times.

Now, he and his wife, Shanti, are adding to the family, as well. They are expecting their first child, a girl, on Nov. 6, the day before the election.

Halter is a graduate of Catholic High School, where he played football. He won several scholarships to attend Stanford University for his undergraduate degree and then received a Rhodes Scholarship to study economics at Oxford.

His career has been many faceted and includes time in the government and private sector.

He served as the chief economist for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, prior to working in the Office of Management and Budget at the White House under the Clinton administration.

"I was part of a team of people who balanced the federal budget for the first time in 40 years," Halter said. Halter was then nominated by Clinton to be deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Social Security Administration.

After serving in that capacity, Halter returned to the private sector, serving as a consultant and member of the board of directors of five different technological companies.

Halter said he thinks the most important issue is improving the education system.

"We need to move from the focus of trying to achieve an adequate education system to trying to achieve an excellent education system," he said.

He said voluntary pre-K programs should be offered statewide.

"For every dollar spent in pre-K programming, it will pay off five to seven dollars to one," he said.

He said higher salaries for teachers and additional scholarships and loan assistance for those wanting to attend college are also important. Halter said he is not a supporter of further consolidation and thinks in this world of technology the education system can be improved in other ways.

"I believe we need to have enhanced distance learning programs, so we can bring terrific educational content into classrooms no matter how distant they are from population centers."

Economic development is another important issue, according to Halter. He said Arkansas seems to be stuck at 49th in per capita income.

"There's nothing that says we have to be 49th," he said. "I'd like to use my contacts and experience to bring better and higher paying jobs to Arkansas."

He said the bio fuel industry can offer many benefits for the country and for Arkansans.

"I'm a strong believer that Arkansas should be among the leaders in the development of bio fuels," he said. "We can reduce gas prices, increase national security by becoming less dependent on foreign oil and put additional income in the pockets of Arkansas farmers."

Halter said he also sees himself as an advocate for senior citizens.

"I'd like to continue the advocacy role I had at the Social Security Administration on behalf of the Arkansas senior citizens," he said.

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