The House today passed 96-0 the legislation to float an $87 million state bond issue to contribute to Lockheed Martin's conversion of a Camden plant to produce a tactical military vehicle if it wins a competitive bid for the contract later this year.
No one spoke against the bill. A number of representatives took pains to say how Arkansas was "partnering" with Lockheed to save existing jobs and create new ones and they tried in some cases to differentiate their votes from past votes against corporate welfare for Big River Steel. Some invoked patriotism — providing vehicles to better protect troops. No one indicated he or she had investigated to see if Lockheed's vehicle is indeed a better alternative to two other competitors. Lead sponsor Rep. Matthew Shepherd said it was a boon to federal taxpayers that Arkansas was subsiding the project (it will spend about $120 million counting interest on the bonds.) He didn't explain how the expenditure of $120 million was a boon to Arkansas, given a consultant's report that it will take 20 years before it's a break-even proposition.
Without Arkansas's money, the Lockheed Martin vehicle apparently would be more expensive than competitors to make, though it had said years ago in closing a Texas plant to move product to Arkansas that the Arkansas plant was more cost-efficient.
The new Republican priorities continue.
No tax cut for the bottom 40 percent of taxpayers.
No earned income tax credit for poor workers.
A tax cut for the wealthiest Arkansans.
A total tax exemption for capital gains for the very richest Arkansans.
A $120 million handout to Lockheed Martin.
UPDATE: The Senate approved similar legislation 31-3. Merry Christmas, Lockheed.