Hugh McDonald, Entergy Arkansas boss and boss of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, and French Hill, boss of Fifty for the Future, give on the jump the corporate bosses’ pitch for a $38 million corporate welfare slush fund in the pending proposal to raise the Little Rock sales tax by 200 percent so city government can increase operating spending by 26 percent a year.
They say it’s misleading to say the chamber will control this money. From a seat on the research park boondoggle dedicated by law to a chamber appointee to other people, already appointed, who are closely tied to the chamber on that board; to an unaccountable $200,000 corporate welfare payout to the chamber each year in city taxpayer money;’ to an anti-impact-fee mayor (bought by real estate contributions to his tax campaign), to an anti-labor political climate, how can anyone doubt that the chamber calls the shot in Little Rock city government, whether de jure or de facto?
The corporate bosses make clear that they are not through asking the poor people of Little Rock for more money to extend corporate bribery to a corporate America that long ago stopped believing in true free enterprise in favor of regressive taxes that soak the poor, corporate welfare for the rich and guaranteed profit for a favored few. This vote is just the first of larger pleas for more subsidies. The chamber has long campaigned for a tax dedicated solely to corporate welfare. This is a mighty first step.
Do we really want to give away $9 million in grocery sales taxes to lure an M&M plant? (In Kansas, Topeka cut the throat of other Kansas locations for the candy factory. State incentives are one thing; mutually destructive intrastate incentives are another.) Hugh McDonald and French Hill say we do need this sort of thing. Do we really want to be more like Oklahoma? The corporate bosses say we do. I do agree with them that we want a safe, well-repaired and aesthetically pleasing city. However, I don’t believe, as they seem to think in the structure of their editorial, that this should be an afterthought and that the top priority should be handouts to other corporate bosses.
See how easy it is to throw that “boss” label around, as the chamber bosses love to do when they talk about the puny, almost non-existent unions of Arkansas? I leave it to you to decide which bosses call the shots at City Hall.