The Arkansas House will take up today Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan to slap a sales tax on motor fuel, put a disproportionate tax on fuel-efficient electric cars and pilfer the (reduced) casino tax as part of a $300 million plan to keep the highway construction lobby busy.

Also coming today is the first committee action on the bill to ask voters to make permanent a general half-cent sales tax to pay for highway work. This will make permanent a huge and growing tapping of money once exclusively reserved for less important purposes — schools, prisons and health care for the poor and disabled. The sales tax falls disproportionately on the poor, but they are not much in favor in Arkansas these days. If they’d just got off their butts, they could be millionaires, too, and qualify for windfall tax cuts.

Advertisement

Noted: Rep. Doug House is going to withdraw a couple of shell bills related to COLAs for public employee retirement plans, including the biggest of them all, the Teacher Retirement System. Does that mean the 3 percent COLA is preserved for two more years? I don’t know, but it bears watching. UPDATE: Keep watching teachers. House said other bills remain in play that could affect COLA policies.