The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Media Coverage on Gov. Huckabee's Pledge to Expand DRA Funding

Posted on November 30, 2007 at 01:00 PM

We would like to send along a copy of this article published by the Stephens media group about former Gov. Mike Huckabee pledging to increase the Delta Regional Authority budget to $30 million if he is elected President. This came in response to communications from the Delta Grassroots Caucus to his campaign, as part of our ongoing efforts to get all the Presidential candidates to state publicly what they would do for the Delta’s economic future if elected. We do not endorse any candidate, of course.

“GROUP LAUDS HUCKABEE FOR DELTA FUNDING PLEDGE” By Aaron Sadler Stephens Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Advocates for economic development in the Delta gained a commitment this week from Mike Huckabee to increase funding for the federal Delta Regional Authority if he is elected president.

Huckabee became the first and so far the only presidential candidate to announce his position on Delta issues, said Lee Powell, executive director of the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus.

The caucus has asked every major presidential candidate how they would help the economically depressed Delta, a 240-county region that spans eight states.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is a past co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority. The agency was created in 2000 to steer economic grants to the region.

Huckabee, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, supports a $30 million-per-year budget for the agency, Powell said.

Its current annual budget is $12 million.

Huckabee’s campaign did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

“We are not endorsing any candidate, but we commend Gov. Huckabee for taking this stand to expand, indeed almost triple, the funding for the DRA,” Powell said.

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, a Democrat, lauded Huckabee’s endorsement of an agency that was authorized for $30 million early on but has never been appropriated that much.

“I’ll praise anybody who’s trying to help feed our people in the Delta,” McElroy said. “He came forward, and I’ll call it like I see it, he was the first to grasp the idea of increasing the budget.”

Huckabee knows the plight of the Delta, McElroy said. The Hope native was governor for more than a decade and he lived a few years in Pine Bluff.

McElroy implored other candidates - particularly Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. - to follow Huckabee’s lead.

Those three should know how bad off the Delta is economically, Powell said. Parts of Illinois and Tennessee are within the region and Clinton is a former Arkansas first lady.

“We’d like to know how they feel about the conditions in the Delta, but not only how they feel, but how they want to address them,” McElroy said. “You can pat us on the back and say, ‘Ain’t that pitiful?’ but if you don’t send us any money, that don’t help much.”

The Delta Grassroots Caucus, a nongovernmental group, was organized to lobby federal officials for economic development dollars in the Delta. It is comprised mostly of community leaders from the region.

According to the caucus, federal funds leveraged through the DRA have resulted in a $754.9 million impact in the last few years.

About 9 million people live in the Delta, a demographic that will be important to candidates in presidential primaries, Powell said.

Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Alabama have their primaries on Feb. 5. Louisiana’s primary is a few days later.

The caucus’ annual conference is a week earlier, in Little Rock.

“The campaigns will predictably all be telling us how much they care about the Delta at that time, but those who have paid attention to our region’s issues for months beforehand will have much more credibility,” Powell said.