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A deficit hawk's deficits 

A deficit hawk's deficits

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported last week that Rick Crawford, the Republican candidate for First District Congress, had declared bankruptcy in 1994 to discharge more than $12,000 in personal debt, including credit card charges and medical bills. It was a touch embarrassing, you'd think, because is a deficit hawk and also opposes health reform legislation which has extended health coverage to the uninsured. A quote from his campaign website:

"If businesses in America spent money the way the federal government does, they would be in bankruptcy. If people ran their personal finances the way Congress does, they would be in jail."

Or maybe running for Congress as a Republican.

Rural school days

From the July issue of Rural Policy Matters:

"Question: In which 14 states are more than 50% of schools located in rural communities?"

"Answer: South Dakota (76.9% of schools are located in rural communities); Montana (74.9%); North Dakota (72.1%); Vermont (71.3%); Maine (67.4%); Alaska (65.5%); Nebraska (59.6%); Wyoming (57%); Arkansas (54.2%); Iowa (54.2%); Oklahoma (52.5%); New Hampshire (51.9%); Alabama (51.6%); and West Virginia (51.4%)."

Watching the carpool grow

The state government controversy of the day is the growth of the state vehicle fleet. Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Keet has made it a signature campaign issue and faulted Gov. Mike Beebe for not doing more to curb vehicle spending. It's not simple, of course. Vehicles are spread among many agencies outside the governor's direct control and a significant number of vehicles are the sort no taxpayer would criticize — highway trucks, police cruisers and the like.

An overview: Of the 8,653 current state vehicles, 4,495 are owned by independent constitutional agencies — the state Game and Fish Commission, the Highway and Transportation Department and colleges and universities. Of the rest, 1,823 are with law enforcement agencies, 775 with natural resource agencies, 570 with the Department of Health and Human Services, 108 with constitutional officers and elected officials (the most controversial segment, though relatively small) and 882 for 52 agencies, boards and commissions (most of these are motor pool vehicles). Noted: 1,896 (or 21 percent) of all vehicles are greater than one ton in size — trucks, buses, ambulances, construction machinery.

A solid total state car count doesn't go back further than 1998. That year, when Mike Huckabee was governor, the state counted 7,465 cars. At the end of 2006, as Huckabee was leaving office, the count was 8,508. That's an increase of 1,043, or an average of 130 vehicles a year. Since 2006, under Beebe's tenure, the increase has been about 36 a year. Keet, so far, hasn't emphasized the difference in Republican and Democratic administration vehicle growth.

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