I noted yesterday that Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin
had blown his stack because Democrats availed themselves of rules promulgated by the Republican-controlled House to stack the Revenue and Taxation Committee.
It's unacceptable for Democrats to have a voice any longer, Griffin apparently believes.
There's something specific at the root of his anger — a special interest tax break.
Griffin has designs on pushing an income tax exemption for all retired veterans' income through the committee to burnish his record for coming elections. He plans on being governor sooner or later.
Active duty military already have an income tax exemption. Retirees get a $6,000 exemption. A full exemption would be costly in tax dollars. It would also create pressure for similar treatment for other deserving people such as police and firefighters. What about a break for teachers? We don't have favored classes in the federal tax brackets (except unearned income of the wealthy).
Though it is considered dangerous to say anything contrary to veterans' interest, it should be noted that military may draw retirement for decades after service at relatively young years and pursue new careers while also being provided other government benefits such as continuing health care.
Fairness and fiscal responsibility must have a place in the discussion of a retirement income tax break for veterans. Griffin will find, too, that if resistance comes, it likely won't come only from Democrats brave enough to argue for fair tax policy the state can afford. Some Republicans might feel that way, too, including some military veterans.
He's angered plenty in the legislature by trying to make the Democrats look like bad guys — and fellow Republicans like chumps — because of his personal agenda.
I say again that sermons on democracy from Tim Griffin, whose actions on behalf of George W. Bush led directly
to disenfranchisement of black military members (many in lower ranks) in Florida in 2004, is pretty rich.
Also re legislative maneuvering: I've mentioned the widespread belief that Rep. Jeff Wardlaw
jumped ship to the Republican Party
in return for House Speaker Jeremy Gillam's
promise that he'd name the medical supplies dealer chair of the House Public Health Committee
in January. Michael Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette put the question to Gillam yesterday and he said he hadn't decided on that position yet. Noted.