In a scattering of special elections across Arkansas yesterday, voters were amenable to tax increases.
Among the results: Bryant voters overwhelmingly approved extension of a half-cent city sales tax devoted to a variety of city projects; West Fork voters approved a one-cent sales tax for municipal work; Sebastian County voters okayed a rate increase for ambulance services and, in Fayetteville, against an organized opposition, campaign voters approved two property tax increases for the city library. And, thanks to a reader for reminding me of a sales tax extension vote in Boone County for a new jail.
The library vote was notable for its size. Almost 59 percent endorsed a 1.5-mill tax increase for maintenance and operations and about 56 percent supported a 1.2-mill tax increase to expand the library building. In all, a 2.7-mill tax increase is a substantial vote of confidence in books (and all the related materials and programs now part of the modern library).
In Bryant, solidly Republican in most voting these days, voters gave 70 percent approval to a variety of infrastructure issues.
People can be convinced that taxes are necessary to operate a useful government. The discussion need not begin — as it seems to do at the Capitol these days — with the first objective being further strangulation of public services in the name of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy. Think early childhood education for those most in need, recently repudiated as a matter of policy by the Arkansas Republican Party in a platform vote defended by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.