Well, a story in today’s Searcy paper is raising some eyebrows: Governor Beebe now says he “won’t push” for the Searcy bypass project.
This comes after Judge Lincoln told voters last week that Beebe played a role in crafting his failed tax plan to fund White County’s portion of the project. According to Lincoln, “Governor Beebe wanted us to form a strategic plan, and the tax/bypass was part of our strategic plan.”
So what gives?
From the story:
“I’m obviously for the Searcy bypass project, but I’m not going to ask the highway department to spend money they don’t have. If they don’t have the money, they’ll have to make adjustments.”
He went on to say, he really should stay out of it because it’s not really any of his business, but he’s involving himself anyway:
“I’m not in any position to rank all the highways in the state of Arkansas. That’s what the highway commission is for. Obviously, I have a little prejudice in favor of Searcy because that’s where I’m from, but I still have to govern the whole state.”
And while staying out of it, Governor Beebe added:
“It’s really sad. It’s sad for Searcy. It’s sad for any projects around the state.”
So, to summarize: He’s going to stay out of it because he’s not really in any position to rank the projects, but he fully supports the project, but he’s not going to add any pressure to the commission to do the project, but he does have prejudice in favor of Searcy, and he’s going to stay out of it, but it’s really sad for Searcy.
And believe it or not, this is all those evil Republicans’ fault because they blocked the trucker tax exemption repeal! Specifically, the governor says it was Searcy’s Senator Jonathan Dismang’s fault. How convenient, seeing as how one of Beebe’s friends is running against Dismang this year.
Two entities deserve to be scolded for this joke of a political move. First of all, the governor. What the heck, dude? Jerking your hometown around like this? You’re using a local hot potato issue and holding it over the heads of Searcy citizens to bully votes out of Senator Dismang and/or to punish him. Of course this is nothing new–politicians have playing these games for years. But this is a reach, even for you and besides, I thought you were against DC politics?
Governor Beebe admits himself he has no control over this issue, and he should probably stay out of it, so he should do it. All indications from the state–except from the governor himself, of course–are that the project will go forward. He is beating a dead horse, and a controversial one at that. This is politics at its worst.
Secondly, shame on our beloved Searcy paper. They continue to sing right along with the Democrats’ narrative. They are accepting Governor Beebe’s premise that the project remains in peril because of conservative efforts to stabilize the state budget and framing these issues in such a manner that reflect poorly on Senator Dismang. They want to continue the work that they started against me and other local conservatives last fall: ”Evil, heartless conservatives are the ones who are holding this bypass project back. Conservatives are the ones holding back ‘progress.’”
What the paper is doing is shameless. They’re giving Governor Beebe a pass on provably false statements so they can continue to advance the narrative that conservatism hurts progress.
If I had made the same types of false statements that the governor made, I would be ridiculed and mocked, disparaged as a ‘local conspiracy theorist.’ But the paper doesn’t question the governor because his comments advance their agenda of silencing conservative voices & distorting the truth.
I’m not sure who is singing the lead, but there’s no disputing that the paper and Governor Beebe are singing the same song.
I have contacted Senator Dismang for comment, as well as Searcy city officials. We’ll keep you posted.
The headline speaks for itself and as one of Arkansas’ finest legislators, Rep. Andrea Lea, told KARN’s Donna Kelley:
“It’s not surprising. Disappointing, but not surprising.”
There is a little hope that Arkansas’ score might see an increase in the future with the state’s online checkbook reportedly scheduled to launch in July. But anytime New Jersey, Illinois, & Louisiana score ahead of your state on an ethics rating, you tend to worry.
Some of the factors in the score were “Public Access to Information” & “State Pension Fund Management.” Arkansas received an ‘F’ in both categories.
Here’s a really neat-0 chart from State Integrity Investigation that shows how Arkansas was scored and why (click on the image to visit SII’s website & see how each score was determined):
I popped into the White County Republican Women’s meeting on Tuesday evening to hear State Rep. Mark Biviano unveil part of the House Republicans’ platform for next year’s general assembly. Biviano is serving as Policy Director for the House GOP caucus. (Minority Leader Bruce Westerman told me earlier this week that the full platform will be unveiled by the end of the month)
So, here’s a sneak peek at some of what we should see on the Republican platform in a few weeks:
1. Reigning in Government Spending. Biviano said, “We can’t keep growing government and expect taxpayers to keep paying the bill.” He added that a big part of reigning in spending is transparency: “The people deserve to know the good news & the bad news.” That’s change I can believe in right there.
Biviano cited the shortfalls in the Forestry department, the unemployment overpayments, and the increased projected shortfalls in the state’s Medicaid program as prime examples of how a little transparency could go a long way: ”I learned about the increased projected shortfalls in Medicaid the same time y’all did, when I read the paper.” This is a serious problem that is rampant throughout the state government: shortfalls are being hidden for political purposes, and we, the taxpayers, are paying for it. Literally.
Biviano said reigning in government spending also includes implementing performance-based budgeting for state agencies. This system would give departments increases (or decreases) based on their performances, rather than across the board increases because ‘the governor said so.’
2. Tax Reform. Biviano said tax reform in Arkansas starts with eliminating the capital gains tax to encourage growth in the state. (click here to read a recent report from Goldwater Institute about the positive effects of such a repeal)
3. Fixing Medicaid. Biviano said Republicans wanted to use the state’s surplus from this year to cover the shortfalls in the program, but the governor did not want to listen. I would expect, and hope, that Republican solutions to the crisis will look something like this.
4. Protecting Arkansas’ Future. This part of the platform includes more pro-life legislation, which may include (if I understood correctly) a fetal pain bill.
Protecting the future also means reforming unemployment benefits & instituting voter ID requirements in the state, said Biviano. Biviano said we need drug testing before Arkansans can receive unemployment benefits, as well as some non-prohibitive voter ID requirement to prevent voter fraud in our state.
5. Educational Excellence. Biviano started by setting the record straight on Arkansas’ standing in education:
Despite what you may read in the papers, we rank 45th in the ability to achieve. 50% of Arkansas high school graduates have to take additional coursework before college.
I am a believer in school choice. It’s in our best interest as a state to put our students where they can succeed.
Biviano also added that we spend more than $11,000 per student in Arkansas which is more than enough to cover the cost of private education. (I believe when I was in private high school the tuition was right around $5,000 per year, or less than half what the taxpayers are currently paying–and I believe I got a better return on my investment)
And this is just the preview! This is very exciting for idea-oriented conservatives across the state. And even aside from the content, which is excellent, it’s just a great idea for the caucus to present a detailed, no-nonsense plan like this to the voters. It’s a ‘contract with America’ approach that is bold, clear, and principled.
If they stick to it, it’s a winner for Republicans and a winner for Arkansas. It will resonate with voters. It already is.
On Thursday, after news broke that former state rep. Fred Smith had filed to once again seek office, state Democrat Party chairman Will Bond told reporters that Smith’s filing fee would not be refundable if he were found ineligible (Smith resigned after being found guilty of a felony conviction last year & Arkansas law prohibits him from being able to hold state office with a criminal record).
Bond says he told Smith that he would have to forfeit his $3,000 filing fee if he’s found to be ineligible.
But yesterday, news broke that the state Democrats have now offered to refund Smith’s filing fee if he will drop out. From KATV:
Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said Monday that the party sent the letter to former state Rep. Fred Smith’s attorney and has offered to refund his filing fee if he resigns from running.
I’m not sure what political impact this development really has, but it should tell you just how bad the Dems want Smith off the ballot. They know he’s going to be a political scapegoat for Republicans in the state, despite the fact that he has no Republican challenger. And we know how much Democrats hate Tim Tebow, who Smith equated himself with last week.
We’ll see how long Smith holds on.
Candidate for Arkansas House District 70 Price Dooley (R-Conway) has pledged to introduce ‘the toughest ethics legislation in Arkansas history’ if elected to the state’s ruling body. He has also pledged to donate his first year’s salary to a Conway nonprofit–a refreshing “money where your mouth is” approach.
In a speech to the Faulkner County Republican Women last week, Dooley said,
Our state is facing a potentially crippling issue that needs to be addressed to restore the trust that Arkansans have placed in their elected officials. In my first sixty days as your representative I will introduce the toughest ethics legislation in Arkansas history. A comprehensive plan that will address legislative conduct, reduce legislative salaries, and deal decisively with legislative compensation. Additionally, I will donate my legislative salary, in year one, to Bethlehem House here in Conway, to set an example for leadership. It’s the right thing to do to restore your trust in our democratic process.