by Max Brantley
Stephens Media has a few more details today on the item I reported yesterday — the effort by a group of House Republicans to block spending bills that contain spending increases. All three bills enjoyed majority bipartisan support, but more than 25 Republicans voted against each, enough to block spending bills, which require 75 votes of the 100-member House.
If they succeed in blocking these three bills, they'll cut a bit more than $200,000 from the state budget. The largest amount, about two-thirds, goes to the state Crime Lab, struggling to maintain accreditation and get its workload out. As I mentioned before, $32,000 is for higher rent on new quarters for the Arkansas History Commission, repository of archives including comprehensive records of publications down through state history. Some tiny amounts are included for pay raises and matching.
Another $50 million or so in cuts and the conservative Republicans can justify their tax break for the wealthy, proposed by tax deadbeat Ed Garner. It'll be an immense windfall for executives granted new stock options by Arkansas companies. To the extent they'll no longer have to move temporarily to Florida and Texas to shield their gains from tax, I guess you could say it will provide a little economic boost in the servants they employ. But economic development? Not hardly. Companies invest where education, raw materials, utilities and public amenities are attractive — not because they might get a 3 percent tax break on the profit should they — in some distant, imagined day that the value of the company appreciates — sell the company at a profit.
Meanwhile, amenities like crime labs, history commission and ethics regulation, might take a lick.