by Max Brantley
Do you read the Arkansas Leader, Garrick Feldman's fine community paper in northern Pulaski? You should, for its energetic reporting and sharp editorials, the latter often written by our columnist Ernest Dumas.
For your pleasure this week, the editorials include one on the similarities between Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. A peeved Huck, you'll recall, doesn't understand why she should be welcomed more warmly than him, given the similarities (save high heels and good hair.) The Leader sees similarities, too, but they are not exactly flattering.
Their records in public office both contrasted sharply with the images they proffered for the national audience, as fierce foes of taxes, spending and big government. Huckabee raised more taxes, grew the government more and piled up more public debt than any governor in Arkansas history. Palin raised a big excess-profits tax on Alaska energy companies, multiplied government payments to individuals and, as mayor of the town of Wasilla, raised taxes and accumulated more debt than in all the city’s history.
She sought more federal pork per capita than any governor in the nation. Both had ethical troubles over the use of the government to settle personal quarrels and in tapping the state treasury for personal benefit. Palin drew a daily travel allowance nearly all the days of her tenure because she lived at home and not the state capital. Huckabee used the governor’s mansion fund as a personal piggy bank. Huckabee had 10 ½ years as governor, she only 18 months.
File and save for distribution nationally in 2012.
Then, about that second med school, the Leader says NO; it is the second law school debate writ much larger.
The taxpayers will put up $3.5 million next year to operate the school, which will open next fall with six or so students.
That is not so much, but it is only the beginning. When it is up to the planned 100 students, the operating and capital costs borne by the taxpayers every year will be many multiples of $3.5 million. The diminishing quality of medical school entrants at the state’s expanded medical school is already an issue.
But northwest Arkansas, the supporters say, will need not only more doctors as it grows but more health professionals generally, and especially more nurses. Five colleges in the area, including the University of Arkansas a few blocks away, already offer degrees in nursing and are not full. Will a sixth school produce more?
Legislators who can serve no more than six years will not care what the expense will be in eight years. If the sales tax on groceries can be cut again as Beebe proposes, they will think we can certainly afford $3.5 million for a medical school next year. Never mind if it is $75 million in eight years. That is how government grows.
Re med school efficiency: I'm reminded that Arkansas Business reported some time ago about UAMS expecting a $46 million operating deficit this year and $40 million-plus deficits for at least two more years. Taxpayers, donors and interest on investments will make up the losses, how much from taxpayers not yet known. Does that sound like a recipe worthy of duplication in a small, poor state?