It was a dark and stormy night | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night

Posted By on Sun, Oct 24, 2010 at 5:20 PM

The line is open. Marble-sized hail here in Hillcrest.

Tidbit: Former Little Rock city director Larry Lichty blogs regularly and I just happened to read his recent post musing on Issue 3, which would make it easier to give tax dollars to private business so they'll operate in Arkansas. Good observations:

1) ... I have always been struck by the irony of how readily corporations are to accept these gifts, more commonly termed "incentives", from the taxpayers while at the same time the business world in general seems to always decry taxes of any kind. In addition some of these arrangements appear to be disproportionate to the size of the investment. For example, it was recently announced that the City of Fort Smith is getting ready to pony up $80 million in incentives including bonds and infrastructure improvements, to attract a $100 million wind turbine plant. Gosh, what business wouldn't love to have that same level of help.

2) And then there is the validity of the impact studies themselves that are made to justify these commitments which, we assume, are based on realistic and supportable data. Since there is virtually no public transparency about these deals, even though public funds are used to finance them, it's impossible to know. (This same argument was made for government contributions to local Chambers of Commerce ...

Amen. I just learned last week that the city of Little Rock has dressed up its $200,000 "contract" with the LR chamber for economic development "services." It's socks on a rooster — the same old taxpayer subsidy for an organization that lobbies mightily against all manner of things in the public interest. But it also is a dishonest document that says the chamber will comply to the extent possible with the state Freedom of Information Act. Based on my own tests, the "extent possible" is not at all.

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