Corporate welfare | Arkansas Blog

Monday, December 14, 2009

Corporate welfare

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 4:23 PM

I'll be writing more this week about taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber steadfastly refuses to tell me how public money in its economic development fund is spent, beyond general line items.

I have learned that the City of Little Rock ($200,000), the Port Authority ($7,500) and the Wastewater Utility ($25,000) have provided money this year. Central Arkansas Water has voted, 4-2, to provide $25,000 next year and in each of the succeeding three years for a total of $100,000. The Wastewater Utility will vote Wednesday to provide another $25,000 annual government subsidy to this high-profile lobby for free enterprise next year. UALR also contributed a token $350.

County Judge Buddy Villines said the Chamber has also sought a handout from the county for its work next year, but no decision has been reached. Villines said the Chamber touted its political work -- anti-union, anti-universal health care, etc. -- in seeking the contribution. He says he told Chamber reps that there are some county officials who might not find that an incentive to send along taxpayer money. Rare bird.

The City of Little Rock is supporting the Chamber's stonewall on how the money is spent. I'd like to know who is receiving the $425,000 in employee pay and benefits being subsidized by taxpayers, how much they are paid and whether their work includes lobbying on controversial issues touted on the chamber website. The Chamber won't say. The city doesn't care. It's just taxpayer (and ratepayer) money.

I'd also like to know about an $84,000 expenditure on minority businesses. The Chamber won't say. The city doesn't care. It's just taxpayer (and ratepayer) money.

I did learn that North Little Rock doesn't contribute to this fund. Hold your applause. It sends $250,000 annually from the proceeds of city electric revenues to the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. Every time you fire up your a/c on the northside, just remember you're helping the chamber.

The contradiction is obvious. Groups that decry government subsidies of health care and, as the LR chamber says, "costs associated with taxes and government regulation" busily stick their hands out for their own subsidies. Of course the guys on the LR Chamber's taxpayer-financed team HAVE group health care, at a cost of $23,000. Your tax dollars at work. None dare call it government subsidized health care. That's only when you want it. Not when THEY get it.


Favorite

Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • TGIF: News roundup, open line

    The week-ending news roundup and open line.
    • Oct 19, 2018
  • Rich white people fund PAC behind racist attack ads supporting French Hill UPDATE

    More reporting on the people contributing to Black Americans for the President's Agenda, which is running racist ads in Little Rock in support of Republican Rep. French Hill. The money isn't coming from black Americans, but wealthy conservative Republicans such as an owner of the San Francisco Giants. GOP feeling heat, files ethics complaint on ad.
    • Oct 19, 2018
  • Another made-up Republican attack: The Saline County socialists are coming to take your business

    The latest in bogus Republican political attacks comes from Saline County, where Steve Lux, chairman of the county Republican Committee, has sent a letter warning members of the Benton-Bryant Chamber of Commerce that a progressive group working to elect Democrats in the county is allied with a socialist group that wants nothing less than "the elimination of private business." This is, of course, nonsense.
    • Oct 19, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017
  • Trump tariffs hit farmers hard

    Well, the trade war has begun and the early returns for farmers are not good — sharp reductions in the prices for soybeans and corn. You may have heard that Arkansas, which overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, has some agricultural interests, particularly in soybeans.
    • Jul 6, 2018
  • Payday lenders on the march at legislature

    Payday lenders are working hard to get legislative cover for the reintroduction of their usurious loan business to Arkansas. Some are fighting back.
    • Mar 10, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation