by Max Brantley
Gov. Mike Beebe today reiterated his support for the ballot measure to allow issuance of $300 million in water bonds. Good for economic development, he said, and, he added for fun, that might mean a tax cut someday. Yeah, right.
Anyway, this measure is, first of all, a bailout for farmers who've wantonly plundered Arkansas's water resources. It's brought to you through the good offices of the amusingly named Natural Resources Commission, once even more laughingly known as the Soil and Water Conservation Commission. You can thank them for decades of effective work in draining aquifers and silting bodies of water all over Arkansas. And for their recent defense of those who dump chicken crap on the land to the detriment of water supplies.
PS for some angry commenters -- I love farmers. I love food. But the record is clear that they have not always been good stewards of water and have contributed to the depletion of underground water supplies and pollution of flowing streams. And they are ever ready to seek handouts for irrigation, channelization and other means to increase their profitability with taxpayer subsidies. These bonds obligate general revenues of the state to improve irrigation supplies for rice farmers. We all have a stake in how wisely resources are used.