A point for Beebe
Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson disagree over whether the property tax should be used to improve the public schools. They’ll have many more disagreements if Hutchinson wins the Republican gubernatorial nomination. (Beebe seems to have placed the Democratic nomination in that lockbox Al Gore used to talk about.) And Hutchinson will usually be wrong.
Attorney General Beebe was an acknowledged leader of the Arkansas legislature for many years, before he was term-limited out. He didn’t always lead in the direction we would have preferred but he did lead. He understands state government and how to pay for it.
As congressman and bureaucrat, Hutchinson has been a follower, a yellow-dog Republican who obeys his party bosses unreservedly. The bosses of the contemporary Republican Party are not much interested in helping the public schools — they prefer private, church-related schools — nor in fair taxation. “Give the rich people more breaks” is what passes for Republican tax policy these days. Hutchinson has never questioned it.
Beebe told the Associated Press that if substantial new revenue was needed for the schools, as the Supreme Court may rule, the property tax was a likely place to get it. Arkansas property taxes are among the lowest in the nation. Because of complexities in the Arkansas Constitution, raising the property tax is difficult. As Beebe said, leadership will be needed. That won’t come from Hutchinson, who says the property tax must not be raised, no matter what.
The property tax is not the only source that could be tapped for the schools. Every gubernatorial candidate should support the closing of the loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. This would not only raise revenue, it would bring some equity to the tax system. But in a state where most politicians are corporation-huggers, taxing the corporations may be even harder than taxing property.
The real bias
Despite a mob of right-wing commentators on the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio, conservatives still complain that public broadcasting has a liberal bias. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s own chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, an appointee of President Bush, is one of these malcontents. A House subcommittee has gone further, voting last week to slash funding for public broadcasting. But audience surveys have consistently shown remarkably high levels of confidence in public broadcasting. The most recent poll found an 80 percent “favorable” rating for PBS and NPR. More than half of the respondents said PBS was more “trustworthy” than ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and FOX News. It’s not public broadcasting that’s out of step with mainstream America, it’s the right-wing extremists.
Donald Trump Friday night signed an executive order directing government to scale back Obamacare to the extent possible. Though the signing was mostly symbolic, it likely has implications for Arkansas.
They've had a forum in Fayetteville today on Rep. Charlie Collins' fervent desire to force more pistol-packing people onto the campus at the University of Arkansas (and every other college in Arkansas.) He got an earful from opponents.
"Why do you guys not care about your community? You’re tearing it down, not building it up, especially in the black community … It’s just a simple question — do you care?" one mother asked the superintendent. "Ma’am, I do care deeply about this district, and I do believe wholeheartedly we are making a better district every day," Poore replied.
When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.