Brummett ponders again the likely outcome of the burning desire by some legislators to raise taxes to build roads. A spread-the-wealth plan that produces four-lane construction to nowhere, is what, to satisfy rural constituencies. And, of course, the plan will rely on a sales tax increase that will more than wipe out any benefit from the reduction in grocery taxes. Sales taxes will remain on the most unfair and regressive levy — on utilities (though not for manufacturers and power plant operators, thanks to this legislature). And on clothing, cars, refrigerators and more. Easy for a former highway commissioner accustomed to jetting to and from his NWA home for meetings on the state’s plane not to think much about the less fortunate in proposing such a levy. That the commissioner-turned-legislator, Rep. Jonathan Barnett, is another deficit-decrying Republican who wants the state to incur jillions in debt and the attendant interest charges for his soak-the-poor-to-help-contractors plan is, well, typical.
Brummett, too, cuts through the fog of adulation, even among nominal fiscal conservatives, for the Highway Department plan to blow $45 million and maybe more on a new Broadway Bridge over the Arkansas River in Little Rock, when it’s possible that it could be repaired for less without the extreme hassle that will be caused by cutting a gap on Broadway for a couple of years. They say the Main Street and I-30 bridges can carry the diverted load during closure. To that, as someone situated between the two of those bridges at rush hour each day, I say one word: Hah!