More groups will announce opposition to Issue 3, the corporate welfare constitutional amendment that would allow millions in taxpayer underwriting of wealthy corporations and also legalize taxpayer subsidies of the corporate lobbyists who work for chambers of commerce (and often against the broader public interest.)
Members of Arkansas Community Organizations, Local 100 United Labor Unions and others will announce opposition at a news conference today. On hand will be some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that produced the ruling that shipment of Little Rock and North Little Rock tax money to chambers of commerce was unconstitutional. That suit in turn inspired legislators who are beholden to local chambers — particularly some from Northwest Arkansas — to offer this amendment under the pretext of “economic development.”
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These grassroots progressives have some uncommon allies in the fight against Issue 3, which naturally is being financed by taxpayer-subsidized chambers of commerce and their sympathizers. They include the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, the conservative Conduit for Action and Secure Arkansas, a group built on opposition to immigration.
Strange bedfellows urging VOTE NO ON ISSUE 3.
Ernest Dumas lays out the reasons in a column published previously.
UPDATE: The statement released today:
Today members of Arkansas Community Organizations (ACO) , Local 100 United Labor Unions and other organizations gathered in front the Pulaski County Election Commission at Markham andBroadway in Little Rock to urge voters to vote against Issue 3. Spokespeople for the organizations said thatvoters should beware of the promise of jobs made by supporters of the amendment and understand the real dangers Issue 3 poses to state and local government in Arkansas. The group said that our tax dollars would be better spent on early education, after school programs, job training and other needed services rather than local Chambers of Commerce and risky tax subsidies to big corporations. The organization also pointed out thatsome parts of the economic development agreements that the state and local governments make with corporations are exempt from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
“It’s wrong to use our tax dollars to fund wealthy special interest organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce. Public money should be used for the common good. Issue 3 would lift the 5% cap on revenue bonds and allow legislators to bet an unlimited amount of our tax dollars on potentially risky ‘economic development’ projects. If these projects fail, the taxpayers are left in the dark holding the bag,” said DonnaMassey, president of Arkansas Community Organizations.
“We note that the same legislature that placed Issue 3 on the ballot voted against increasing funding for early education. Supporting and funding programs that have a track record of success is a much better investment of our tax dollars. Beware the promise of jobs. Don’t let the Chamber and the special interests fool you. Voteagainst Issue 3,” said Toney Orr, organizer for Local 100 United Labor Unions.
Mr. Orr along with Jim Lynch and Mac Miller were the three plaintiffs that sued the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock over their yearly subsidies to the Chamber of Commerce. The plaintiffs won in Pulaski County circuit court. Legislators placed Issue 3 on the ballot in response to the court’s ruling. Both Mr. Lynch and Mr. Orr spoke at the rally.