by Max Brantley
* A NEW MEDICAL DAY BEGINS: The state has begun its new plan for Medicaid reimbursement, a system supposed to reward efficiency in episodic treatment, rather than a strict reimbursement-for-visit plan. The program will begin with tracking of care for upper respiratory infections, perinatal care and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Good medical results, in theory, will carry greater financial rewards.
* FISHING FRAUD: Doesn't a little lying come naturally with fishing? Exaggeration is one thing. But Texas has a law against fraud in fishing tournaments and prosecutions are being done. Surely nobody has ever cheated in an Arkansas fishing tournament.
* WARNING: CRONY CAPITALISTS AT WORK: Steve Brawner, a columnist for Stephens Media, has focused some attention on the stinkiest proposal on the November election ballot. It's the latest effort out of Fort Smith (which has a long history as a seedbed for this kind of corporate welfare) to get taxpayers to provide direct government support to the building of retail stores. Yes, you heard me. Under a bond proposal Jake Files cooked up, developers of shopping centers could capture sales taxes in the shopping centers — not to support public services — but to help pay the cost of the shopping center. Nothing would stop a store from moving from one nearby city to another. Nothing would stop the politically connected from getting the benefits. This is son of TIF, the failed corporate welfare vehicle to divert school property taxes to retail developments, impaired by a state Supreme Court ruling protecting school taxes. The sales tax diversion has been welll-cooked in other states already and its abuse has led to a significant cooling on the idea, just in time for Arkansas to be victimized. Even sponsor Files won't dispute the possibility of abuse:
I asked Files if he thought this could be an example of “crony capitalism,” where the well-connected make money off the backs of taxpayers.
“You could look at it and say that,” he said. “You could also look at it and say, if some of these things don’t get done and some of these areas don’t get some sort of opportunity given to them, there’s not anything ever going to happen there.”
Nuts. If demand exists for a Walmart, that company has the capital to build a store and the knowhow to make it profitable. Taxpayers don't need to be subsidizing the Walton family or the Target family or the Bass Pro family. Even corporate-controlled Louisiana has gotten nervous about subsidizing one retail development at the possible expense of another area. The Baton Rouge paper did a nice contrast of two tax subsidized projects there — one of which sucked business out of other regions, the other of which failed.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 2.