Question answered | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Question answered

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2007 at 10:34 AM

I can see now why all the usual suspects hushed up about what they hope is a one-time raid on the trust fund built by the real estate transfer tax for parks, museums, Main Street rehabilitation and other cultural and heritage projects.

The $9 million -- at $4.5 million each of the next two years -- is being devoted to a pet project of the governor and legislative bigwigs -- The Arkansas Alternative Fuels Development Program.

Excuse me for repeating myself: But would it not make more sense to spend money on alternative fuels raised from depletion of finite resources -- such as the natural gas robbed from our ground at sometimes great environmental cost and then sold out of state with an almost invisible severance tax, much lower than that WE pay on gas received from other states?

Last I looked, Arkansas wasn't awash in overbuilt, Cadillac-quality parks and museums and symphony bandshells on the square of every stunningly restored downtown. Think of a state that WAS awash in such amenities.

PS -- As mentioned yesterday, there is other legislation out there that envisions tapping this tax. Little Rock legislators seek less than $1 million for homeless programs. A Blog reader said that bill got 20 votes this morning in Joint Budget, needing 27. Jeff Hankins of Arkansas Business reminded me last night that Sen. Nick Wilson shepherded this trust fund in the 1990s and the courthouse up in Pocahontas was one of the first beneficiaries. I reminded him that some honest people also favored this idea and fought for it over the years, including Jodie Mahony and Kay Kelley Arnold. And I still bemoan a legislature that provides first for industrialists, farmers and the wealthy and then lets starved cultural resources and the homeless battle it out for scraps -- particularly in a year with so much money to spread around.


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