Here’s your solution… yep, more taxes!
Wait, wait, wait… wait. No, really… wasn’t a big part of the the whole Issue 4 thing that profits were going to be designated for highway funding? I mean, the group backing the issue was calling itself “Driving Arkansas Forward” and their logo was a big poker chip with a paved road in the center with the inscription “Jobs, Roads, Lower Taxes” on it.
What’s that, Michael? No one actually bothered to mandate that idea in the wording and it made the ballot anyway? That can’t be right, can it? The politicians and the judges and the lawyers yanked the ballot issues off the ballot that might limit the money that the politicians and the judges and the lawyers could rake in but left the ambiguous “casinos for roads” issue there without making sure there were some “for roads” language somewhere in the text?
Shocking, I know.
So, now that Issue 4 has passed, and now that the state can expect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue with no clearly designated purpose, we’re STILL looking for a way to fund the upkeep of Arkansas’s highways?
Now, usually I leave it up to you to do the finger pointing at the liberal, socialistic, entitlement-loving Democrats like me on these sorts of issues, but the Republicans have had complete control of the state government for a couple of years now, and the best solution y’all have come up with is spending money on special blue-ribbon task forces that have only come up with solutions that boil down to one two-word answer: Raise taxes.
Now, Michael, I thought you conservative types were against that sort of “big government” type of action? But you’ve been paying attention. I know you’ve seen that every special committee or consultant or expert that the state has spent money on has come back with some variation of that very thing… raise the fuel tax, raise the tax on car tags, raise the sales tax on (fill in the blank), Now Michael, you said, “if you haven’t had your head stuck in the sand over the last few years …”
Well, I have been paying attention and I’ll tell you who is going to end up holding the hot potato… you. And me and every other Arkanas taxpayer, because there’s nowhere else to get the money. The bureaucrats aren’t going to fork over one penny of that casino money for highways without a legislative mandate. And who would that mandate come from? The very same self-serving legislators who are instead going to divvy up that money into several piles for pet projects that directly benefit their constituents. It’s two whole years until campaign season 2020, and these politicians who are more concerned about their political careers than highway funding want to be able to point to a park or a school or a shopping center and say, “you see that, voters? I got us the money for that!”
Whatever name they want to go by, be it the American Road and Transportation Builders Association or the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation or Driving Arkansas Forward, it’s very clear that these special interest groups are looking out for their special interests first and the people of Arkansas a distant second.
So, now we’re not only supposed to accept higher taxes but be just super-excited about it because it will come with that golden carrot that politicians love to dangle in front of us in this sort of situation — more jobs!
You know what, Michael? That’s fine. More jobs is good. More jobs will never be a bad thing. But just stop with the smoke and mirrors and the fancy dance moves. I’m fine with paying taxes in return for getting the services and infrastructiure we all need, but just stop pussyfooting around and wasting money on task forces and studies that keep pointing to the same thing.
By Ralph Hardin