Flip-flopper and fibber | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Flip-flopper and fibber

Posted By on Tue, Aug 22, 2006 at 11:44 AM

That's Bill Halter's assessment of Jim Holt on education. News release on the jump.


(Little Rock) – Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Jim Holt yesterday followed-up his school consolidation flip-flop with a fib about his commitment to rural schools in Arkansas.  Holt yesterday claimed to a reporter to be a protector of rural public schools, but a review of his voting record shows that he has on several occasions voted against the interests of rural schools.


"Saying I haven't protected rural schools is like my primary opponent saying, I'm a tax and spend liberal,” Holt told the Associated Press yesterday.  But Holt failed to disclose several of his own anti-rural school votes.


“Jim Holt’s legislative record proves that he has often opposed the best interests of our rural schools,” said Bud Jackson, Halter campaign spokesman.  “In the State Legislature, Jim Holt voted against recruiting highly-qualified teachers for rural schools.  He even proposed a constitutional amendment that would have gutted the funding of some rural school districts.”


“Jim Holt also opposed increased school funding, which is crucial to providing all Arkansas students with a better opportunity for an excellent education,” continued Jackson.  “Jim Holt has just not been on our side when it comes to rural schools and educating our children.” 


Holt’s fib as a protector of rural public schools comes on the heels of his flip-flop on school consolidation.  Holt last week voiced his adamant opposition to school consolidation even though he supported it as recently as 2002, even suggesting that Arkansas could be reduced to as few as 100 districts to save money. 


“Jim Holt can’t be trusted to fight for rural schools and he apparently can’t be trusted to be completely truthful with Arkansans,” said Jackson.  “Last week Jim Holt didn’t tell Arkansans about his contradictory positions on school consolidation and now he claims to be a protector for rural schools but fails to disclose his voting record opposing rural school interests.”


“The more Arkansans get beyond his inflammatory rhetoric and actually learn about his record, the more they understand that Jim Holt is not on their side,” continued Jackson.  “The more Jim Holt speaks, the more Arkansans wonder what he isn’t telling them.”


Jim Holt’s Record Against Rural Schools:


No Teachers for Rural School Districts – Jim Holt was the only State Senator to vote against providing incentives for recruiting and retaining teachers in small school districts with fewer than 1,000 students. The bill became law.  [Associated Press, 2/6/04; AR General Assembly, SB89, 2/4/04]


Gutting Rural School Funding – In 2003 Jim Holt proposed a state constitutional amendment that would have gutted the funding of small and rural school districts.  Under Holt’s constitutional amendment, the state would have no legal obligation to fund public schools and would only be supported by revenues collected by those residing in each school district.  Under Holt’s extreme proposal, students living in poor school districts would receive less funding for their schools than students who resided in wealthier districts due to lower property value and the revenue it creates.  Holt’s amendment thankfully died in committee. [84th General Assembly Regular Session, SJR 20]


No Increased Funding for All Students – In this year’s Legislative special session, Jim Holt voted twice against increasing per-pupil funding.  First, Jim Holt was one of only two State Senators to vote against Senate Bill 5 which would have increased per pupil funding.   Second, Holt later voted against the final Educational Adequacy Act of 2006, which did increase per-pupil funding for all students in Arkansas’s public schools. Further, in 2005 Jim Holt once again voted against increasing per-pupil funding.   [SB 5, AR General Assembly Special Session, 4/4/06; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/39/06; Arkansas General Assembly, 4/12/05, SB 939]


No Equitable and Adequate Funding for Schools –  Jim Holt voted against the Public School Funding Act of 2003 that created a new fair and equitable formula for distributing state aide to school districts, something the Supreme Court required after ruling that the formula the state had been following was unconstitutional, inequitable and inadequately funded.  [Arkansas General Assembly, 1/6/04 Senate roll—call vote on SB 42; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/7/04]


No Funding for Poor School Districts - Jim Holt was just one of four Senators to vote against an appropriations bill that provided $2.08 billion in grants and aid to local school districts.  The bill, which became law, also included $132 million in funding for that the state planned to allocate to schools based on their concentrations of poor students.  [SB 79, AR General Assembly, 2/3/04; Associated Press, 2/3/04]


Holt’s Revolving Position on School Consolidation – Holt last week voiced his adamant opposition to school consolidation but he supported it as recently as 2002 and even suggested that Arkansas could be reduced to as few as 100 districts to save money.  “The issue of school consolidation has gained political acceptance because those who support it think they are saving money and not realizing the true cost,”  Holt said just last week in a news release.  “The cost is sacrificing good schools … “


But in 2002 Holt supported consolidation for the very same reasons he now opposes it.

“Why couldn’t we have 100 school districts based upon school enrollment?” asked Jim Holt in 2002. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/16/02]


The Democrat-Gazette  reported that “State Rep Jim Holt, vying to switch state legislative bodies, would cut the number of school districts by two-thirds, which he said would save on administrative salaries and provide more money for teachers." … On the issue of school consolidation Holt said that rather than 310 the state should have something closer to 100 school districts.”  [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/16/02]


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