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Michael 'Mike' Dale Beebe
Birthdate: Dec. 28, 1946
Birth Place: Amagon, AR, United States
Residence: Searcy, AR
First Elected: 2006
Undergraduate: Arkansas State University
Graduate: University of Arkansas
Mike Beebe was born in Amagon, Ark., and now lives in Searcy. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Arkansas State University in 1968 and a law degree from the University of Arkansas in 1972.
Beebe was elected to the state Senate in 1982, to the attorney general's office in 2002 and to the governorship in 2006.
He and his wife, Ginger, have three children.
Mike Beebe is a veteran legislator who handily won his second term as Arkansas governor in 2010. A Democrat, Beebe has avoided the woes that have hit his party in the state and throughout the South.
Beebe has enjoyed a string of victories since taking office in 2007, aided by a Democrat-controlled legislature and his advocacy of popular state-level issues.
Beebe's pet issue since his 2006 run for governor has been reducing the state's sales tax on groceries. In 2011, he signed legislation that cut the tax from 2 percent to 1.5 percent. The grocery tax was 6 percent when he took office in 2007. Beebe also won support from lawmakers for his proposal to cut down on prison costs by overhauling the state's sentencing laws.
Beebe's popularity stems partly from his avoidance of national issues, particularly health care and immigration. Beebe said in the months leading up to the passage of the 2010 health care reform bill that he was concerned about what it would cost Arkansas. He announced his opposition to the legislation the day after the U.S. House gave its final approval. Beebe, however, has said he is leaning toward expanding Medicaid under the law.
Although Arkansas has cut its budget in recent years, it has avoided the widespread financial problems and layoffs that have hit other states. Arkansas ended the 2012 fiscal year with a $145 million surplus, and officials say there could be up to $200 million available for one-time needs when the legislature convenes in 2013.
Beebe's successes in the 2011 legislature mirror his earlier dealings with lawmakers. He won support in 2009 for a proposal to raise tobacco taxes to pay for a statewide trauma system. Two years earlier, the state Supreme Court ended a long-running school funding case after the legislature passed measures backed by Beebe to boost classroom funding.
Beebe called lawmakers back to the capital for a special session in 2008 to consider raising the tax on natural gas production to pay for highway improvements. He called the special session after he reached a compromise with natural gas firms that had been exploring the state's Fayetteville Shale formation.
Beebe faces a potentially difficult session in 2013, with Republicans hoping to win control of one or both chambers of the Legislature in the November 2012 general election.
As state attorney general, Beebe focused on issues such as online predators. He represented the state during a long-running school funding battle that sent legislators into special sessions in 2004 and 2006.
Beebe announced in June 2005 that he was running for governor after spending months traveling around the state as attorney general. He defeated former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson in the 2006 election. He easily defeated former state Sen. Jim Keet in the 2010 election, one of the few bright spots for his party in a year where Republicans made major gains throughout the state.
Though he has enjoyed widespread popularity, Beebe insists there are no more races in his future when his term ends in 2015. The two-term governor is barred from seeking a third term.
Source: Associated Press
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