You get what you pay for
According to Rep. Keven Anderson of Rogers, Gov. Mike Beebe's proposed budget including another tax cut “borders on genius.” He's a poor judge of distance.
Beebe's plan looks more like opportunism than genius. The grocery tax was cut in half last year. Further reduction is politically popular, and heavily promoted by right-wing media who favor any tax cut, even if, or especially if, it means a reduction in services to the working class. Why spoil them, the right-wingers say; a desperate worker is a terrible thing to waste.
Beebe proposes his tax cut even as the state faces a severe need for more money for programs such as Medicaid, the only health care accessible to many, and more prison space to house criminals who prey mostly on low-income Arkansans. (Reform of the drug laws would lessen the demand for prison space, but neither Beebe nor anyone else in office is proposing that.)
Rep. Chris Thyer of Jonesboro has a clearer view than Anderson: “Help me understand what sense there is in having $150 million or so in what the administration is calling needs, while at the same time taking another penny off the sales tax on groceries.” As a candidate in 2006, Beebe said that reduction and eventual elimination of the sales tax on groceries was desirable when it was affordable. (It would be affordable if the state's whole regressive tax system were reformed to collect a larger share from those most able to pay, but Beebe's not proposing that either.) The lure of a second term seems to have made him less responsible.
A journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step, but at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a journey of a few blocks doesn't begin at all. The New York Times is approximately 1,000 miles from the Arkansas State Capitol; Arkansas's largest newspaper is just down the street. Last weekend, the NYT covered a demonstration on the steps of the Capitol more extensively than did the Little Rock paper. A fair-sized story appeared on page 7A of the D-G Sunday, under the headline “Protests spread through U.S. after gay-marriage ban.” The dateline was Boston, the accompanying photograph was from San Francisco. The fourth paragraph of the article said, in its entirety: “About 200 people protested Saturday in front of the State Capitol in Little Rock.” That one sentence was taken from the New York Times' more comprehensive report. The D-G sent neither reporter nor photographer of its own. One of those protestors should have worn a Confederate uniform. That always stirs the D-G's editor.