The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s reporting staff turned out two useful stories today. Neither qualified as surprising in a general sense, but the supporting details were important.
* TAXES: Michael Wickline, the D-G’s veteran Capitol correspondent, reported further on the work of a legislative task force considering tax policy. Surprise. Many Republican legislators like the sales tax on groceries and don’t want to forge ahead with a final cut. Some would undoubtedly like to return to previous higher levels. What better way to pay for an income tax cut that primarily benefits the rich than to sock a tax on poor people’s sustenance? Well, you could throw in
A perfectly sensible idea — and a boon to both the highway construction lobby and the blindered keep-busy crew at the Department of Freeway Building — has also been mentioned by the legislative task force, but I predict it won’t get farther than it ever has. This would be applying the state sales tax to motor fuel. It’s a user fee. It encourages efficiency. It’s elastic. But Republicans think magic money is in inexhaustible supply. No need to raise taxes to build roads, not when you can poach money that would otherwise go to public schools, colleges, prisons, State Police or health care. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has already added to this poaching in next year’s budget with legislative acquiescence (on top of a dedicated general sales tax that benefits highway construction.)
* HOGS: Eric Besson and Aziza Musa continued examining public records about