Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The needs of the state: Kids or tax cuts

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 1:03 PM

SEN. JON WOODS: He suggested meeting needs before cutting taxes. Not to worry. He'll be gone the next time the legislature meets.
  • SEN. JON WOODS: He suggested meeting needs before cutting taxes. Not to worry. He'll be gone the next time the legislature meets.
An observer reports from a legislative committee meeting this morning at which the State Police made a case for more money for child abuse hotline operators and investigators.

The witness reports that Sen. Jon Woods, a Springdale Republican who's not seeking re-election and will be gone in 2017, said words to this effect: "Put a tax cut in front of me and I'll vote for it, but we need to address the needs of the people of this state before we look at tax cuts."

That's better than what you get from most Republicans. Their agenda, beginning with the governor, generally begins and ends with cutting taxes. They believe money aplenty is left for any and all "true" needs. (Already they are stealing from general revenue for highways.) The notion of a bountiful supply of manna is an illusion, of course.

The better answer from Wood would have been: "If we have needs in addressing child abuse, give me a reliable estimate on a meaningful enhancement and I'll vote to fund it. If we still have surplus after this and other crucial needs are met, THEN I'll vote for a tax cut."

But these days, when you're a beleaguered state worker — particularly in the woefully understaffed and underpaid child services world — Jon Woods' comment was water for parched souls.

Another speaker at the meeting today was Rep. Justin Harris, who commented that, as someone with a master's degree, he couldn't understand the paperwork on how to appeal placement on the child maltreatment registry.

I am not making this up. Yes, THAT, Justin Harris. He won't be back next year either, though he'll still be running a state-financed pre-school, "Growing God's Kingdom."

I should add there's a growing movement afoot, popular in some reaches of the legislature, that says the state moves TOO diligently to protect children. Too often, in my experience, this arises from protests from families that believe they've been unfairly targeted for their religious practices, such as, let us say, vigorous corporal punishment or odd ideas about demon possession and the like. That sentiment surfaced today, too.

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