by Max Brantley
A minority of the House — a Republican clique — continues to hold up appropriation bills in the House.
Rep. John Burris, the Republican leader in the House, took to the well today to defend the votes yesterday — and more followed today — against appropriation bills with increases in general revenue spending. He said he knew amounts were small, but the time to affect the budget was during the appropriation process, not at the end when all were improved and the revenue stabilization act is approved. He said the state was moving toward a 2.5 percent budget increase, or about $100 million, and the time to reduce that was now.
Defeated today, all with 75 votes need:
* SB 70, 67-21, the Ethics Commission budget, which had a $22,000 increase.
* SB 72, 69-21, for the History Commission budget, including a $32,000 increase for rent in a new building. Rep. Kelley Linck, a Republican, supported the increase after opposing the bill yesterday.
* SB 83, 64-22, for the Arkansas Geographic Information Office, including a $25,000 increase.
The House passed SB 114, 79-10, an increase of more than $143,000 for the State Crime Lab, which handles tens of thousands of cases each year. Republican Rep. Allen Kerr spoke for the bill as did a number of others. He said he was
n't against government growth, but said the agency needed money to properly do its job. Rep. Ed Garner was among those who still said an increase wasn't justified.
A Republican minority is free to declare costs must not increase and prevent the operation of government because of the three-fourths vote requirement (a requirement that radicals like Sen. Jason Rapert also wants to apply to all tax increase legsilation). In the world where most of us live — the gas station, the grocery store, the clothing store, the building supply store, the hospitals — costs are rising. The functions of government use the same sources of supply and so its costs are rising, too. The blockade, if permanent, means services will be either reduced or shut down. The service disruptions will be huge if all their tax cuts become law.