The raid on culture | Arkansas Blog

The raid on culture



John Brummett explains today much better than we had earlier the raids -- successful and attempted -- on the fund established with a real estate transfer tax increase in the 1990s for cultural uses, parks, historic rehabilitation and other under-funded activities.

A big chunk is going, as per the governor's wishes, to subsidize the growing ethanol effort (something that I still suspect will prove to be just another farmer subsidy program and generally unproductive in terms of meaningful impact on a wiser energy policy, but that's for another day). Brummett focuses on the effort to take a little of the money on a continuing basis for homeless programs. Put that way, it's a compelling argument. But it overlooks all the other ways that the legislature diverts money for unworthy uses -- often the special interests of fat cats -- while bypassing the needs of people in great need, not just homeless.

Enough sermon, but I have to take a swipe at Sen. Dave Bisbee, who again floats the fiction that Northwest Arkansas is somehow subsidizing the rest of the state in this program. Pulaski County remains the biggest source of tax revenue in Arkansas, period. Check the numbers. And another: The private little tax break given in secret a few years back to Alice Walton to purchase art for her Benton County museum (a worthy cultural project, I'd grant) is being subsidized by everyone else in the state, from Eudora to Piggott. That tax break, on a single painting of a New York landscape alone, would have paid for this worthy little homeless program for the next five years. Tell me about subsidies, Dave. How about grabbing some of THAT money for the homeless?


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