Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr announced today that he supported Issue 1, a Constitutional Amendment to raise the state sales tax by a half-cent for 10 years to pay for a four-lane highway construction program (and provide a small portion of the money for local uses).
Darr is throwing in with the Big Business Northwest Arkansas Contingent pushing this — the Walton-owned Arvest Bank is a big contributor to the kitty to push the issue and Sen. John “Dr. No” Boozman backs it, along with Rep. Jonathan Barnett of Siloam Springs, the former highway commissioner.
I’m waiting for the Koch mailers to start flying. And any minute now the condemnations should start to pour in from the many Republicans who’ve done everything short of calling for a Charlie Fuqua-style capital punishment deterrent for anyone who even voted to put this idea on the ballot where voters could decide. I can’t readily count the swing legislative districts where the Koch billions hope to defeat Democrats with this issue alone.
Darr’s statement follows. I double-checked with his office to make sure this was not a joke:
Today I am announcing my support of Ballot Issue #1 concerning Arkansas Highways. No one hates taxes more than me; however, one of the primary functions of government is to build roads and infrastructure and this act does just that. My two primary reasons for supporting Ballot Issue #1 are the 40,000 non-government jobs that will be created and or protected and the relief of heavy traffic congestion. Traffic congestion has become a serious issue in Central Arkansas as well as Northwest Arkansas. I believe this act will address those needs. Only 3% of the stimulus money received a few years ago went to improving our roads. With Ballot Issue #1, 100% of funds will go towards roads. I believe doing nothing is more costly to the state of Arkansas and its citizens than implementing this act. I am proud of Senator Boozman’s leadership on this particular issue and I am pleased to join him in supporting Ballot Issue #1.
It figures Darr would back a tax increase that doesn’t move me much, particularly given the rooky-doo given the state by the truckers in the legislative highway tax process. Here’s a rundown on the issue from the committee pushing the tax increase.
The Kochs are spending hundreds of thousand dollars on disingenuous mailers like the one below, all intended to smear Democrats to elect Republicans to serve in the Senate over which Darr, a Republican presides. Maybe he really isn’t running for governor in 2014. The Kochs surely wouldn’t approve. (PS — About that flyer. Wilkins didn’t vote to raise taxes, he voted to put the sales tax Darr supports on the ballot for voters to decide.)