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Bad senator!

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A staff without a boss is like the infamous bridge to nowhere. It's outrageous that public money should be spent on such things.

Yet there are those in state government who want to retain on the state payroll the four employees in the lieutenant governor's office, though there is no lieutenant governor. The person who last held the office, Mark Darr, resigned this month after being caught violating state public ethics laws, and fined substantially for his misdeeds. Three of the four employees receive salaries that are quite handsome by Arkansas standards. All are Republicans, presumably. Darr was yellow-dog Republican. The office of lieutenant governor is itself useless, by the way, a leftover from the 19th century, when transportation and communication were primitive. The four employees had nothing to do even when the office was occupied; now they have even less.

Republicans these days are raising an even louder hue and cry than usual over spending. Some oppose expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. Thousands more low-income Arkansans could be covered if the program was expanded. Some high-ranking Republicans want to cut spending on the food stamps that feed poor children.

One would assume then that Republicans would be demanding dismissal of the four employees. But a Republican, state Sen. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville, president pro tempore of the Senate, is chief spokesman for legislators who want to keep the four on the payroll. Prominent Democrats, including Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, are opposed. Lamoureux says the four can help him — by fetching coffee, perhaps. To taxpayers, that will be very expensive coffee. 

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