As Arkansans, we have more to be grateful for this Thanksgiving than many of us may realize. We hear constant news of economic turmoil across America and in Europe, and we see the partisan gridlock that has brought Congress to a standstill. While we are affected by these forces here in the Natural State, we have stepped forward to chart our own course for the better.
The strides we've made now have other states looking to us in hopes of replicating our success. We have become a national leader for our advancements in K-12 education. We're one of only a handful of states that has not been forced to make massive cuts to services like schools, Medicaid and prisons. We've avoided tax increases, and yet continue to belong to a small group of states without a budget shortfall.
The image of Arkansas is changing after historically being one of low expectations and results. And while we are now invited to share our strategies with other states around the country, we must remember to change that image in our own minds, as well. Every Arkansan can be thankful for these positive changes, even as we realize that more important work awaits us.
Our stable environment positions Arkansas for a massive influx of opportunity as we come out of the recession. Business leaders, who invest money to create, expand or relocate companies, seek out stable environments where tax structure and economic policies are predictable. If they are to take the risk of new investment, they want to do so in a place that gives them confidence and stability. Arkansas has become such a place, a safe bet for business in a tumultuous time. The result has been new investment in Arkansas, even in turbulent times.
For these reasons, the current generation of Arkansans has unprecedented opportunity before them. Arkansas's colleges and universities are conducting cutting-edge research and making ground-breaking discoveries on a global scale in areas like nanotechnology. Our secondary schools are pioneering new methods of education to prepare our people for the high-paying jobs of tomorrow.
Even as we look at the broad advancements being made, it is equally important to be thankful for the smaller, important things in life. On Veterans' Day earlier this month, I expressed my gratitude for our servicemen and women. This year, we have more cause than usual to be grateful, as more Arkansans who serve us in the military are headed home. Our Army National Guard units are all scheduled to return to us by Christmas, and they are coming home to a State with a prosperous future.
We are embracing the chance to write a new history for Arkansas and build a future where even more of our people can be thankful. The Thanksgiving season provides us time to reflect on the results of our hard work and reinforces our resolve to give future Arkansans reasons for giving thanks.