Senator’s Push to Protect Four Arkansas Cities’ Status as Metropolitan Statistical Areas Reaches Successful Conclusion
Jul 14 2021
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman’s (R-AR) efforts to protect the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) designation of four Arkansas cities – Jonesboro, Texarkana, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff – and over a hundred others across 45 states have resulted in a successful outcome. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has announced it will maintain the MSA designation at 50,000 in population rather than raise the threshold to 100,000 in population.
“The consequences of this change in MSA designation would have been devastating, with several Arkansas cities possibly losing out on millions in funding for basic needs including transportation, housing and health care,” Boozman said. “I’m pleased OMB took seriously the concerns we expressed and changed course. This decision will mean increased economic certainty and opportunity for communities that were put in jeopardy by this proposal.”
Boozman pressed OMB to preserve the current definition, citing its harmful potential impact on Arkansas. In March, the senator led a bipartisan letter to OMB Acting Director Rob Fairweather urging the agency to abandon plans to change the current definition. He was joined by two dozen of his colleagues in urging the agency to keep the existing designation in place and warning that the change would “cause major disruptions to grant and entitlement programs, medical reimbursements, economic development, housing initiatives and more.”
The effort had support from local officials and business organizations in each of the Arkansas cities that would have been affected.
The senator also backed the Metropolitan Statistical Area Preservation Act, legislation that would maintain the MSA classification of the four Arkansas communities and prevent OMB from increasing the minimum population required for an MSA designation.