Gov. Mike Beebe endorsed Mike Ross for governor on Saturday at the State Capitol in Little Rock.

Beebe said he thinks Ross is the best candidate to continue the state’s progress in education and economic development and to lead Arkansas as its next governor, according to a Ross press release.

Ross, a native of Prescott who now resides in Little Rock, is a former small business owner, state senator and U.S. Congressman.

“I have known Mike since we served together in the State Senate,” Beebe said. “He’s a close, personal friend and I am proud to support and endorse Mike Ross to be this state’s next governor. Arkansas has made too great of strides in education and economic development to allow our state to turn back that progress now. Mike Ross will unite this state with a bipartisan focus on education, job creation and tax relief, and he will serve as the hardworking, compassionate leader we need to continue moving Arkansas forward.”

Ross said that under Beebe’s leadership, the state has expanded universal Pre-K education and strengthened K-12 education, raising Arkansas’s schools to fifth in the nation. He said the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund has led to the announcement of 30,000 new jobs, and Arkansas has been named the second easiest place to start a small business in the country. Ross also said Beebe delivered on his promise to cut the grocery tax – all while balancing the state budget ever year in the toughest economic times in a generation.

Ross then pledged to build on the foundation Beebe has made in the areas of education, job creation and tax relief.

“I am proud and honored to accept Governor Beebe’s endorsement – someone I have admired since the days when we worked side-by-side in the State Senate,” said Ross. “Governor Beebe has served this state well and the reason he’s the most popular governor in America is because he always puts good public policy over partisan politics and he always puts Arkansas first. When I’m elected governor, I’ll do the same and I’ll bring Democrats and Republicans together to strengthen education, create more good-paying jobs and make targeted tax cuts that help working families, and we’ll do all this in a fiscally responsible way that continues to balance our budget. I will build on Governor Beebe’s foundation on education, job creation and tax relief and I will unite this state to keep moving Arkansas forward.”

Ross said when he’s elected governor, one of his first actions will be to create a “Governor’s Cabinet for Economic Development” – a statewide coordinated effort that would focus on job creation. Ross said he would name John Burkhalter, a Democrat running for Lieutenant Governor, to chair the Cabinet.

“While government can help, it doesn’t have all the answers, and it can’t solve all of our problems. Government should help where it can, and it should get out of the way where it can’t,” said Ross. “The Cabinet will be an effort to provide better coordination, increased communication and a stronger, more unified strategy for our state’s job creation efforts. We want to help the state become more efficient, effective and productive, and this Cabinet will ultimately become an engine for new, innovative ideas that grow the middle class and create good-paying jobs for more Arkansans.”

Ross said one of the biggest ways to bring more jobs to the state would be to strengthen education in Arkansas and develop a well-educated, highly-skilled workforce that will attract the jobs of the future.

“We’ve made great progress in education under Governor Beebe’s leadership, but we need to help our young people start sooner and finish stronger,” Ross said. “We need to expand Pre-K education, offer more afterschool and summer programs and help more students get an affordable college education. We also need to strengthen our emphasis on career and technical education, so that a person who doesn’t go to college can learn a skill or trait that helps them get a good-paying job to support their family. My philosophy is that every child raised in Arkansas should have faith that if they work hard, study and play by the rules, they can achieve their God-given potential and they shouldn’t have to leave Arkansas to do so.”