WANTS A PARKING DECK: Sen. Alan Clark

Arkansas must be rolling in money. Sen. Alan Clark of Hot Springs filed legislation today to allow for the building of a parking deck — minimum 200 spaces — on the Capitol grounds. No specifics on money. You’d think we were rolling in dough and the governor wasn’t proposing a $200 million tax cut for the wealthy.

Hard to figure the need for this. When the legislature isn’t in session — and good fortune willing, they’ll put an amendment on the ballot to return to 60-day sessions every two years — there are plenty of open spaces in easy reach of the Capitol. There’s a ton of parking on the Capitol grounds, too, though much of it requires a bit of a hoof to the Capitol itself. (Not for legislators; they are provided spaces close in.)

I’m wondering what other building plans are afoot. Allen Kerr’s Insurance Palace, maybe?

Money is an issue and Clark’s bill isn’t specific about the source. First, the millionaires must be served with a tax cut. Asa has decreed it. The highway contractors must be served with more tax money to build concrete gulches through Little Rock. Medicaid must be cut — taking insurance premium revenue and the income from lost jobs with it. Education sufficiency must take another beating. Pre-K must take another piddly appropriation.

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Apparently, the legislature WILL raise sin taxes — first on tobacco. That’s a good idea because higher tobacco taxes and sufficient inclusion of vaping will reduce smoking and the punishing bill it produces in health costs. If only that was the real point of the tax, as opposed to coming up with an offset for the millionaires’ tax cut.

No word yet on slapping more taxes on beer and whiskey drinkers, another historically popular solution for state money needs. Those lobbies have some fierce paid advocates on the ground in Arkansas. They stalk the marble halls with campaign contributions. Maybe even a loan for a legislator with the shorts.

Don’t go looking for casino riches just yet. The existing casinos just got a whopping tax cut. It’ll be a couple of years before a new casino is online and longer still before it offsets the money given to existing operators.

Internet sales tax fortunes? We already have Amazon and Walmart receipts and no sign of a bonanza so far. We might get back revenues lost from businesses wrecked by the Internet economy. If we’re lucky.

UPDATE: Clark is quoted in the Wednesday D-G as saying he doesn’t expect the bill to pass this session but wants to get the conversation going. Consider it going. Bad idea for wasting $5 million or so.