Other topics stole my attention, but a comment is in order on the continuing search for a free lunch by Arkansas Republican politicians. They want magic money to pay for highways and levees while shoveling corporate welfare to private businesses.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson invited press to bill signings today for the $87 million corporate welfare handout to Lockheed Martin to aid its bid to win a federal military vehicle contract and other bills from the special legislative session that concluded Thursday.
J.R. Davis, the governor's press spokesman, provided me with some additional information on the $87 million state bond issue Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to help Lockheed Martin expand a Camden facility to produce military vehicles, if it wins the federal contract.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson talked with reporters this morning about the items on his call for a special session to begin next Tuesday including $87 million in corporate welfare for a major defense contractor with a budget bigger than the state of Arkansas. Plus, a non-answer about that racist email from Hutchinson's appointee for state drug director, former legislator Denny Altes.
Nucor Steel Arkansas and Nucor Yamato Steel, which operate steel mills near Blytheville, have filed suit in federal district court in Jonesboro to stop construction of the Big River Steel mill, an operation heavily subsidized by state and local tax money that's a venture by Nucor's former boss, John Correnti.
A friend notes a news article in the Arkansas Catholic and the coincidence of timing with discussions about a merger of clinical operations of the public University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Vincent Infirmary.
Sounds like this turkey is cooked. Direct support by House Speaker Davy Carter and slightly qualified support by Senate President Michael Lamoureux would make it appear Gov. Mike Beebe is going to get his big state subsidy to help a startup steel mill operation in Mississippi County, despite stout opposition from an existing competitor that cranked up here without such millions in taxpayer help.
The careful review of a major taxpayer investment in the proposed Big River steel mill is nothing but a good thing and there's no debate we can thank the new Republican legislative majority for the oversight.
Nucor, the big steel producer with a mill in Mississippi County, is increasing its attack on the state proposal to give tens of millions in subsidies to a startup competitor run by a former Nucor executive.
THIS IS NOT FOR PUBLICATION YET
A taxpayers' lawsuit has been filed challenging expenditure of tax money by the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock — cumulative millions over the last 20 years — to support local chambers of commerce.
Thanks to Republican Rep. Duncan Baird for calling my attention on Twitter to a new Pew study on the perils of corporate welfare — state tax incentive programs to lure business that can grow to crippling revenue drains.
Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.
The Arkansas Department of Correction is planning for the first double execution in the U.S. in 16 years tonight. Jack Jones, 52, and Marcell Williams, 46, are scheduled to die by lethal injection. They would be the second and third prisoners put to death as part of a hurried schedule Governor Hutchinson set in advance of the state's supply of one of the three drugs used in the execution protocol expiring on April 30.
Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.