Just when you think you know something, it’s time to examine the facts. I have spent several hours actually reading, researching and calling Arkansas legislators to get the FACTS on the ballot issues that face Arkansans on Nov 2nd .
This post is an attempt to give people the information gleaned as a result. I hope you will read this information, do your own research and then pass it on. Knowledge is power, but only when shared! The three issues are located at this link where you can read the entire bill if you wish. My personal findings are found below. http://www.votenaturally.org/2010_ballot_issues.html Additionally this link provides the most objective information I could find. http://ppc.uaex.edu/ballot/default.htm
Issue No. 1 SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 3 IS TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH, TRAP, AND HARVEST WILDLIFE.
Issue No. 1 to my knowledge is cut and dry, it gives the citizens of Arkansas the Constitutional right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wildlife. I encourage you to go to the Public Policy Center link for more details.
[UPDATE]~ There has been some concern expressed over Issue #1 and how it reads, using the word "regulation" One school of thought I have seen expressed from different points of view is if you don't understand it or like the way it is written vote no~
Issue No. 2 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 1004 PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARKANSAS CONCERNING THE INTEREST RATE LIMITS.
This is the one to make blood shoot from your eyes. On its face (if it had only one) this amendment would boil down to: Do I stand on the foundation of free markets and individual liberties or not? The way I understand this is it will allow business owners to charge up to 17 percent on lines of credit. While I believe this is excessive, people also do not have to purchase their goods from merchants who charge this rate.
The challenge is there are 5 caveats to this ONE issue, which may explain why there has been a lawsuit filed against it even being placed on the ballot. “A challenge to Arkansas Issue 2 was filed with the Arkansas Supreme Court opposing the measure and asking the court to take the issue off of the November ballot. The lawsuit argues that the measure violates single-subject law and that the proposal combines three separate issues into one measure, sidestepping the limit on Arkansas Legislature to refer only up to three measures in an election year.” (http://ow.ly/2U2tc) No wonder it’s such a challenge to understand and explain.
Since this post was made on BallotPedia, there have been two more issues added.
Currently merchants of higher-end goods such as furniture and appliances are not able to offer in-house lending. Instead, they must send credit customers out of state, putting Arkansas businesses at a disadvantage and diverting that interest revenue to other states. For instance, if you go to buy furniture and you want to finance it, the seller today must solicit your loan from an out- of- state lender or lose money on the loan because our interest rate is capped so low. If not for all the gook all jam-stuffed into this one it might be a different story, but it usurps the Arkansas Constitution.
Issue No. 3 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 1007 TO AMEND AMENDMENT 82 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF ARKANSAS TO AUTHORIZE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ESTABLISH CRITERIA BEFORE AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS FOR PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS PLANNING AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.
This Issue No.3, in my opinion, expands the role of government in the private sector and creates a “slush fund” for legislators. Under Amendment 82, the State of Arkansas already can issue bonds for the purpose of providing infrastructure and other needs to attract companies that plan to invest a minimum of $500 million dollars and hire a minimum of 500 new employees. This was used in the case of a wind turbine business, LM Glasfiber that came to Arkansas in 2007, but has yet to fulfill the obligations set forth in the Amendment. As a matter of fact this company promised to have 1000 employees in the first 5 years and at the three year mark has less than 300, having two layoffs in 2009 and has only invested to date $95 million. Yet, Arkansans have spent $14,900,000.00 tax payer dollars though funds and grants giving “incentives” to LM Glasfiber to come to our state. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse this company has a “27-year exemption from the state corporate income tax.”
This “amendment to the amendment” would set the bar lower, thereby allowing legislators to give bonds to businesses at their discretion to attract them to Arkansas. In my view this also is an attempt to gain more control of who comes and who goes. The advocates for this issue say it will help draw businesses to our state. My thoughts: If we lower our tax rates on businesses (Arkansas today is ranked a woeful 40th in the nation for business tax climate) and stop regulating them to death, then the free markets will naturally attract businesses here. The primary reason we are avoided now is because of our onerous tax burdens.
Allowing legislators the power to decide “winners and losers” in the free market, while knowing that Arkansas continues to experience revenue shortfalls and budget restrictions and being the nation’s 12th fastest growing state growing in debt, it’s a step in the wrong direction for Arkansas to give new authority to increase debt.
The vast majority of Arkansans (around 61 percent) are strongly dissatisfied with the direction of our nation and over 51 percent of Arkansans say their economic situation is fair or poor compared to 5 years ago.
Arkansas is ranked 10th worst place to retire . We have amazing people, a good climate and our cost of living is excellent but (and it is one big but) our tax loads are among the most burdensome in the nation. Arkansas’ State/Local Tax Burden is above national average estimated now at 10.0% of income; Arkansas’ state/local tax burden percentage stands at 14th nationally, above the national average of 9.7%. Arkansas taxpayers pay $3,351 per capita in state and local taxes.
The State of Arkansas has 2,000 of more than 8,000 state vehicles that are being used for personal use. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has 658 cars for 613 employees to which the commissioner responded “It’s something awfully hard to get rid of. People get used to it.”
Arkansas has lost 17,300 jobs since the $814 Billion Stimulus was passed , raising unemployment more from 6.8 to 7.5 percent. . It should be noted that 5 of the 6 Arkansas delegates voted for this bill. (Congressman John Boozman was the exception).
Arkansas children rank third in the nation with 26.9 percent living in poverty in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The percentage of Arkansas children living in poverty has risen steadily since 2006, when it was 23.8 percent.
From 1998 to 2007 the state government grew by 17%, representing 28,800 new government positions over the past ten years, while population only grew by 8.9%.
Although Arkansas has a balanced budget amendment our state is billions in debt. According to Sunshine Review~ Arkansas has a total state debt of $7,899,579,400 when calculated by adding the total of outstanding debt, pension, OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefit) UAAL’s (Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability), unemployment trust funds and the 2010 budget gap. As of June 30, 2008 Arkansas Public School Districts and Education Service Cooperatives had outstanding loans and bonded indebtedness totaling $2,842,716,298 — an increase of $230,838,355 over the previous year.
Arkansas’ individual income tax has a top rate of 7% that kicks in at $32,600 income. The Tax Foundation lowered the state’s Business Tax Climate to 40th in the nation. The corporate tax rate has a top tier of 6.5% that applies when income levels reach $100,000 which placed Arkansas in 39th place among the 50 states. But Arkansas hits near the top of the charts as number 12 of states going into debt.
While Arkansas families & businesses teeter on the precipice of uncertainty not knowing if our taxes will increase dramatically in January, Congressman Mike Ross (D) tours our state proclaiming his dedication to Arkansas citizens yet voted to keep us on the edge of economic strife & come home with no answer. As a result, the average middle class family in Arkansas will see a tax hike of $1,418. (“Affect of Expiration of Bush-Era Tax Cuts on Average Middle-Income Family, By State and Congressional District,” Tax Foundation, 8/1/10).
While Governor Beebe is in Arkansas working on a state his $86 million “comprehensive health-care program”, Congressman Ross cast a vital vote in committee to move Obama care forward and Senator Blanche Lincoln voted against the people of Arkansas when she cast the deciding vote to pass the government takeover of healthcare. Now Sixty-four percent (64%) of Arkansas voters favor repeal of the health care bill, including 51% who strongly favor it. Only 30% oppose repeal, with 20% who are Strongly Opposed.
The Arkansas Legislature adjourned March 12, 2009 without passing HB 1053, titled the Open Checkbooks in Government Act, sponsored by Dan Greenberg (R-Little Rock). This bill calls for the creation of a searchable website cataloguing all state expenditures and bond proceeds. The website also will include electronic copies of all state grants, contracts, and subcontracts, as well as a listing of all public meetings.
Time, energy and sheer exhaustion are what prohibit me from going on and on and on… ARKANSAS WE CAN DO BETTER!
GET THE FACTS OUT AND VOTE! NOVEMBER 2ND YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR OUR STATE, OUR NATION AND OUR FUTURES~