by Max Brantley
Just noticed a good item a few days ago from Michael Cook at Talk Business.
It would appear that legislation sponsored in the Senate by Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang will raise taxes on cell phone users by $20 million to pay for expansion of broadband service in rural areas and improve 911 service.
Cook's point is not that this is a bad bill. Indeed, it's the kind of good work government can do, at a cost. He writes:
My problem is the blatant hypocrisy of many Arkansas Republican legislators in voting for a tax increase.
Many Republicans who voted for this tax increase also signed the “no new taxes pledge”, which means they broke their word by voting to increase taxes on cell phones. Moreover, I would bet many other Republicans have, at one time or another, railed against government raising taxes.
No new taxes is almost a mantra with many Arkansas Republicans. And what did these Republican legislators do? They raised taxes!!
What is even more galling is I predict that this vote will be used against Democrats running for reelection in 2014. You can bet that Americans for Prosperity and/or the Republic Party of Arkansas will send out slick mailers attacking Democrats for raising taxes on cell phones. And they’ll conveniently forget to mention that in the entire 135 member Legislature, only 3 Republicans voted against it.
No one enjoys raising taxes, but if you want roads, good schools, police and fire protection, etc., the funds have to come from somewhere.
Other Republicans are busy cutting taxes without saying how those cuts will be paid — beyond the fact that state employees aren't likely to see much of a pay increase again. But think about it. What you see here is, if you believe broadband expansion is a vital government service, a cell phone tax increase helping to pay for an income tax cut.