by Max Brantley
Slow day so far. So I'll grumble about an item in the D-G (sub. reqd.) about a Little Rock city hall committee that recommended a reduction in local business taxes. The committee was led by city director and flower shop owner Stacy Hurst and, save one retired city employee, was composed entirely of business people, notably including a representative of the historically tax-averse Little Rock Regional Chamber of Conmmerce. It isn't exactly stunning to hear them recommend a tax cut.
They may even be right. Business license fees may need changes. It is also no fault of the self-interested business people that the only realistic source of makeup money should they get a tax cut is to shift the burden to people's groceries and other necessities of life through a sales tax increase. That's how the city has always rolled.
Here's my complaint. City taxpayers are subsidizing the Chamber of Commerce to the tune of $200,000 a year. The chamber is well-financed by its members. It historically has been quite capable of lobbying for lower taxes, suppression of unions, defeat of health care reform and all the rest without help from the biscuit cookers. Why in hell must city taxpayers pay the chamber to lobby against them? (I know. The city will say its payments to the chamber are for subcontracting "economic development services." That's baloney. It's a straight subsidy to the chamber with no specific accounting of how the money is spent. City money supports chamber employees who wear multiple hats, such as lobbying against the rights of working men and women and for tax cuts.)
End the subsidy.