There will be a story in Wednesday’s edition of the Searcy paper about the pro-A&P tax group putting their fliers in mailboxes without stamps — a violation of federal law. But that’s not the real story. The real story here is that the paper is reporting the incident.
This is a paper that, like many across the country, bends to the left. (If you need any evidence of this, see this hit piece they ran on little ole insignificant me. They even had a piece yesterday outlining how much better the current proposal is than the 2009 proposal.) They also turned a blind eye to the ethics violations of our sitting county judge and endorsed the bypass tax, if I remember correctly. So it is certainly news that they are now turning against the pro-tax crowd. Quite frankly, it’s a great indication that the tax is doomed — a claim support by the paper’s own empirical evidence.
Using their own creative scientific method of hiring college students to conduct research, the paper conducted a poll showing the A&P tax failing by 12-points. They also recently conducted a poll that showed state Rep. Mark Biviano leading his Democrat challenger Kyle Osborne (who, incidentally, supports the A&P tax) by 16 points while just days before, Biviano released an internal poll from a well-respected polling firm showing a 26-point lead. So I think it’s reasonable to assume that the tax poll may be off by several points as well, although I can’t say I am completely surprised– they have a history of screwing these things up.
As I have been telling folks for a while, before any polls were conducted, you should not be surprised if the tax is defeated handily and by a larger margin than last time – perhaps by as much as 16-18 points.
The activists on the ground (as opposed to the ones at the paper) know they’re in trouble as well: last week, Alderman Don Raney told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that Searcy needs the tax to help “disabled children” and the elderly. Besides being disgusting, these tactics are clear signs of desperation.
Don’t be surprised if you see the paper run a few more favorable A&P tax pieces between now and the election — they’ll come under a wave of pressure from the city political establishment after tomorrow’s bombshell hits. But even they know the gig is up.
Last night, I witnessed the Searcy debate between incumbent Rep. Mark Biviano and his Democrat challenger Kyle Osborne. If the voters make a choice based on the candidates’ performances, Osborne is in serious trouble.
In his opening statement, Osborne began by saying he’s running for state representative because he has 30 years of law enforcement experience and “we need a little law enforcement in Little Rock.” He continued by saying he wants to go to the legislature to “serve alongside our hometown boy Mike Beebe.” You know, the Governor Beebe that’s running around the state calling for “civility” while telling Republicans to “shut their mouths” and accusing AFP of “trashing Arkansas.”
He also repeated the tired talking point that “Arkansas is 5th in education” (again, this claim has been fully debunked here at The Arkansas Project). Osborne also said he wanted to help Beebe finish eliminating the grocery tax and that, as police chief, “I’ve done everything I could to double the training budget for the city police.”
Biviano began by asking the moderator if the altitude had been properly adjusted in the room before the debate: “You’ve gotta love Al Gore,” he quipped. He then began the substantive portion of his remarks by saying he was running for reelection to give his children better opportunities. He said that,
“To be an effective legislator, you have to want to serve. We have too many rubber stamp legislators.”
As for his platform, Biviano espoused his belief in lower taxes, education reform, and a business-friendly regulatory climate. Citing the statistic that Arkansas has lost 30,000 private sector jobs in the last 5 years, he ended his remarks by saying, “It’s time for Arkansas to do better.”
Read the full story from The Arkansas Project.
While there have been some private rumblings for some time, Alderman Don Raney has now made it publicly known that he intends to propose yet another tax increase to the Searcy city council at the August meeting.
In Raney’s letter, he identifies two concerns that were raised about the last A&P proposal: 1. The issue was not placed at a general election & 2. The funds were to be overseen by an unelected commission rather than elected public officials.
(Mr. Raney is partially correct. There were objections raised about the tax being placed at a special election, but I never heard anyone demand it be placed at the general election, but simply at a regular election–primary or general election. But I digress.)
I fear that Mr. Raney thinks these two compromises on the part of the city will ease the concerns of everyone who opposed the A&P tax the first time–and for some former opponents, that may be true. But the problems with an A&P tax are fundamental.
For instance, is it ethical for our city to slap tourists with an extra 3% when they come to our city? Should they bear the cost for our amenities? And is this sound tax policy? (by the way, that 3% would also apply to groups that rent rooms for meetings in town, perhaps including Kiwanis, Lions, church groups, etc.)
Shouldn’t an “A&P tax” go towards “advertising and promotion?”
Should we be raising taxes on food?
Doesn’t this tax disproportionality effect the poor?
Do parks improvements really take precedence over infrastructure and public safety?
What level of taxation can our city sustain? Can we really keep raising taxes every time someone wants a new project and expect real growth?
Our economy is still floundering–what impact would this tax have on consumers who are tightening their belts even more?
I think these are questions that deserve answers. I’m looking forward to having a conversation with you–Searcy voters, people of White County, and activists from around the state that have seen the disastrous effects of A&P taxes and big government in your cities.
I have little doubt the A&P proposal will have any difficulty making it through the city council, so the debate is imminent.
(To our dear Searcy leaders: Sorry, I know you thought this blog was defunct. And while it is true that I have been, and will continue to be, primarily occupied with my work at The Arkansas Project, I will be taking time to weigh in on this tax debate as much as possible. I may not be leading the charge this time, but I will make my voice heard and the people will be given the facts about this proposal.)
Searcy Mayor David Morris & White County Judge Mike Lincoln apparently both stated in the local paper a few months ago that they support Issue 1 or the ‘Highway Tax’* that will be on the ballot in November. The half cent tax* increase was referred to voters by the state legislature during last year’s regular session.
A tax on fuel…what a great idea! A tax hike on everything? What a great idea!*
Morris reportedly said that street improvements are his ‘biggest concern’ and said the additional revenue that the city would receive as turnback would be ‘welcomed.’
I find this particularly interesting, given that Searcy voters approved a 1% tax increase in December 2011, specifically for road improvements, and the mayor did publicly & privately promise not to call for any further tax increases until this new tax expires. The tax went into effect on April 1 of this year.
Then we have Mike “Never-met-a-tax-I-didn’t-like” Lincoln who told the paper that we “desperately needs additional funds for highways.” Lincoln also said, “if we want improvements, we are going to have to pay for them.”
This is a line he used repeatedly during his campaign to raise taxes on White County taxpayers by 1% last September. The implication behind this comment is sincerely insulting to the people of White County. Of course, if we want to improve our infrastructure, we will have to pay for it. But ‘paying for it’ and raising taxes to pay for it are two entirely different things, Judge Lincoln.
Voters should also remember that the judge cut $1.5 million from this year’s county road budget, while the county sits on millions of dollars in CDs and other accounts. He uses many straw-man arguments like, “Well, we don’t have enough money in the road fund,” leading voters to believe that only money in the road fund can be used for infrastructure improvements, but this is simply not true.
The fact is: White County government, during Judge Lincoln’s time in office, has enjoyed its highest revenues in history. Our problems in White County do not originate from a lack of revenue. They stem from a lack of leadership.
UPDATE: A delightful Lincoln supporter & serial commenter on this blog has said that the diesel tax will no longer be on the Arkansas ballot in 2012. I have read some discussion in the news about this, but I have not seen anything definitive. Many sites are still reporting that the issue will be on the ballot, including Ballotpedia (whom I cited earlier in this post). They have the ballot question’s status listed as “on the ballot.” TaxRates.com reported on the vote just over a week ago, citing a poll that was conducted on the issue in late March of this year.
I am looking into this and will keep you posted. Whether or not the issue will be on the ballot this year is immaterial to my point in this article. Judge Lincoln wants higher taxes, despite county revenues being higher than ever. And this point is not dependent upon this particular tax issue. He has supported multiple other taxes during his time in office, and I will be outlining those as well.
*This part of the story was edited for clarification.
I contacted State Senator Jonathan Dismang yesterday evening after learning of Governor Beebe’s unhinged comments about the Searcy bypass project.
The senator tells me he is confident that the trucker tax exemption will not effect the project:
I have talked to 3 commissioners and the director who have all repeatedly indicated that our project will not be impacted by the funding shortage created by the trucker tax exemption.
The director he’s referring to is the director of the Arkansas Highway Department, if I understood correctly. We’ll keep you posted on further developments.
In my estimation, this is further evidence that Governor Beebe is simply playing a sick political game & using a sensitive issue in his hometown to take cheap shots at Dismang. Truly ironic comments from a governor who has repeatedly spoken out against “DC politics,” and said this last fall:
“You elect people to work together to solve the problem. And you may not agree on every issue and you may not get your way on every issue. And while I’m not suggesting that you prostitute your principles, I am suggesting that you act like adults and that you try to resolve our nation’s problems…
“If the people in Washington, D.C., would take a lesson from the people in Arkansas, we could solve a lot of these problems a lot earlier.”
Seems to me that the people in DC are acting like the folks in Arkansas and that is the problem. Perhaps the governor should take his own advice and start acting like an adult.