Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Henderson announced Thursday his plan to "make Arkansas the best place in the country to be a public school teacher."
Henderson, who is one of two people challenging Governor Asa Hutchinson in November, said teachers have been "underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated." Over a 10-year period, he said his plan will make the state the best in the nation for public teachers.
"Without investing in our teachers, Arkansas's public schools will continue to be toward the bottom of every national ranking," Henderson said in a press release.
He said his plan will focus on teacher pay as well as retention and support. He said that "more equitable education in Arkansas will also lead to a stronger economy and workforce."
A part of his plan includes a 10 percent increase for minimum teacher wages and a 3.6 percent increase for the following nine years. He also promised to "protect against efforts to undermine the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System."
"The first two years alone in this plan could be paid for by Asa Hutchinson's proposed $180 million annual tax cut for the state's top earners," Henderson said. "Investing in our teachers is not a matter of feasibility, it is a matter or priority."
Henderson said the plan would also support students.
Jamie Barker, a spokesperson for Hutchinson's re-election campaign, called Henderson "another out of touch liberal" who wants "to base increase spending on speculation and abandoning our commitment to public safety."
"The Governor's plan to increase starting teacher pay to the highest in the region while also making our income tax rates competitive is building on what he has accomplished in his first term when we raised teacher pay twice and cut taxes for over 90 percent of working class Arkansans," Barker said.
Libertarian candidate Mark West said he is concerned about Henderson's proposal and would release his plans to revamp Arkansas's education system next week.
Watch our interviews with Henderson and Gov. Hutchinson from the primary elections: