by Max Brantley
Now it's Halter going after Wooldridge's record in the legislature. News release on the jump.
UPDATE: Also Wooldridge's response.
Halter news release
HALTER CAMPAIGN CALLS ON WOOLDRIDGE
TO OFFER ARKANSANS EXPLANATIONS:
âºWOOLDRIDGE VOTED AGAINST TAX BREAKS FOR RETURNING IRAQ VETERANS
âºHE VOTED TWICE TO CUT THE PAY OF STATE EMPLOYEES WHILE THEY SERVE IN NATIONAL GUARD – AND CALLED THEM “DOUBLE DIPPER[S]”
âºHE HAS NOT PAID SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES FOR CAMPAIGN STAFF
Little Rock – Democrat Bill Halter’s campaign has called on opponent Tim Wooldridge to offer an explanation about his insensitive votes against Arkansans returning home from service in Iraq and state employees who serve in the National Guard. The Halter Campaign also asked Wooldridge to explain why he has not paid Social Security taxes for any of his campaign staff.
Wooldridge Voted Last Year Against Tax Breaks for Arkansan Soldiers Returning from Iraq
“Tim Wooldridge was one of just two state senators to vote against tax breaks for Arkansas soldiers returning home from Iraq,” said Halter spokesman Bud Jackson (source: HB 1628, approved 32-2). “On two separate occasions he also tried to cut the salaries of state employees while they were serving in the National Guard.”
In April 2005, Wooldridge was the only member of the Senate’s Revenue and Tax Committee to vote against HB 1628 that would have increased from $6000 to $9000 the amount of pay drawn by servicemen that would be exempt from state income taxes. In effect, Wooldridge voted against the tax break coming out of his committee and then he voted against its final passage.
“I understand the price of freedom is blood,” Wooldridge said at the time in a April 7, 2005 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article. “However, my charge here is to hold the line.” The bill would have only cost the state roughly $817,000 in revenue. The month before Wooldridge opposed the tax break for returning veterans, his SB 417 bill passed committee -- a bill to provide tax incentives for business despite questions about whether the state would benefit from the tax break
“Why is Tim Wooldridge one of only two people in the senate who felt the state should not help Arkansas service men and women who have given so much to our nation by serving in Iraq?” asked Jackson. “He opposed tax breaks for Arkansans returning home from serving in Iraq while authoring legislation to give business new tax breaks. I believe Arkansans would like to hear his explanation.”
Wooldridge Voted Twice to Cut the Pay of State Employees Who Served in National Guard – Called Them “Double Dipper[s]”
In 1993, Wooldridge unsuccessfully proposed cutting the salaries of state employees while they are out on National Guard Duty. Wooldridge called 2,600 state employees serving in the National Guard “double dipper[s]” (source: The Commercial Appeal, 3/30/93). In 1995, Wooldridge again introduced the legislation which was resoundingly defeated again (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 2/12/95).
“Tim Wooldridge should explain why he twice voted to cut the salaries of state employees while they were serving in the National Guard,” said Jackson. “He should also apologize for his insensitive remarks, calling people serving both our country and state ‘double dippers.’” (source: The Commercial Appeal, 3/30/93)
Wooldridge Has Not Paid Social Security Taxes for Campaign Staffers
A review of Wooldridge campaign finance disclosure statements shows that he has failed to pay any Social Security taxes on his campaign staffers.
“Tim Wooldridge, who has chaired a Senate taxation committee, has had a full-time campaign manager for months whom he has not paid any Social Security taxes on,” said Jackson. “How can you run a major statewide campaign for over year, raise and spend more than $500,000, and do it all with contract labor?”
“At a time when Republicans are threatening Social Security, Tim Wooldridge tries to save thousands of campaign dollars by avoiding paying payroll taxes,” continued Jackson. “Every day thousands of small business owners with smaller amounts of revenue pay their fair share of taxes while Tim Wooldridge doesn’t.”
Wooldridge has stated that he pays his staff as contractors so they are free to pursue other clients. But at least one employee has served as his campaign manager, served at Wooldridge’s direction, and has not had taxes taken out by Wooldridge. Do all of his “contractor staff” have any other clients?”
“Senator Wooldridge has served this state for 16 years in the state legislature, and during that time has cast more than 15,000 votes,” said campaign manager Gary Moody. “It is reckless and irresponsible for Bill Halter, a person with ZERO legislative experience to cherry pick a handful of difficult votes and use them to mislead the public about the Senator’s positions.”
“The fact is that as the Chair of the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee, Sen. Wooldridge joined Senator Argue, as Chair of the Senate Education Committee, to make it their priority to ensure that the required additional state funding for education was raised without raising taxes. In order to do that, they and many others committed to holding the line on new expenditures from the current budget, even those for noble causes. Senator Wooldridge and Senator Argue honored that commitment, and were able to increase education spending by over $350 million dollars without creating new taxes,” said Moody. “SB 417 was an economic incentives package, designed to bring new jobs and tax dollars into the state, it put money into the budget rather than take it out.”
“Just like it is sometimes hard for a parent to say “no” to buying a gift for their child when money is tight, a legislator must be willing to say no, even to popular and worthy causes, when money is tight,” said Sen. Wooldridge. “In this case, making sure our schools had the money they needed to better educate our children was my highest priority, and for that I owe no apologies.”
“We in Arkansas are fond of the expression that when we say, “bless your heart” to someone, you can accompany it with the blunt and honest truth,” said Sen. Wooldridge. “So what I would like to say to Bill Halter is, “Bless your heart, you just don’t understand how difficult governance is, which is not surprising since you just moved back here last fall and have never served a day in elected office.”
“I think that it speaks volumes about my overall record on this issue that I have been endorsed in this run-off by Hershel Gober, who served as Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs for President Clinton. Furthermore, for two of the last four years I have been requested to serve as the keynote speaker for the Arkansas National Guard’s annual enlisted men’s banquet, and in 2003 I was named an “outstanding senator” by the Arkansas State Employees Association.”
“Senator Wooldridge’s record is an open book; in fact all of the legislation that the Halter Campaign has asked for explanations of had been discussed in the press when they happened,” said Moody. “While I understand that neither Mr. Halter nor the majority of his campaign team were in the state for the past few years, that doesn’t mean that our staff has the time to educate them on the past sixteen years of Arkansas politics during the next six days of this race.”
CAMPAIGN STAFF ISSUE
We are going to stand behind our comments from last week.
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:12 PM
Subject: Wooldridge Statement
Statement from Senator Wooldridge regarding question of paying payroll taxes on campaign workers:
“Everyone paid by the campaign has been done so as contract labor. This was done at the request of the campaign workers, allowing them to continue to pursue other consulting/professional work if they so chose. It gave them the flexibility of schedule and control they desired. Many retained other client relationships and professional service engagements throughout their tenure with the campaign. All of this was done under the advice and counsel of our CPA.”