Planned minimum wage survey might nail down where GOP's French Hill stands on issue | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Planned minimum wage survey might nail down where GOP's French Hill stands on issue

Posted By on Sun, Sep 7, 2014 at 7:49 AM

YES OR NO? Perhaps a survey will nail down J. French Hill's vote on a coming minimum wage proposal.
  • YES OR NO? Perhaps a survey will nail down J. French Hill's vote on a coming minimum wage proposal.
Stephens Media's John Lyon reports that the ad hoc group backing the minimum wage increase has sent a survey question to candidates and soon will be separating the sheep from the goats with a public release. It's information worth knowing.

I'll be looking for that survey — which I hope is in the form of a yes/no question — on the 2nd Congressional District race.

Democrat Pat Hays
is a firm YES and has been for months. Republican J. French Hill, the 9th generation Arkansan and millionaire banker, has been against it for months. Then came what appeared to be some temporizing in Saturday's Democrat-Gazette. Hill was not identified as a definite vote FOR the measure nor, like 4th District Republican Bruce Westerman, a definite NO. Instead, the newspaper said this:

Republican 2nd Congressional District nominee and banker French Hill of Little Rock said through a spokesman that he "will vote for the Arkansas minimum-wage increase if he can ensure it doesn't negatively impact Arkansas jobs."

Hill said "the Obama economy is squeezing the middle class, and we need to move beyond minimum-wage jobs and start building careers, opportunities and real choices for all Arkansans."

The article didn't say how or when Hill might receive his information on the impact of the proposal on jobs.

Then comes Lyon's article today, which puts HIll in the unequivocal NO category.

Some Republican candidates have taken firm positions against the minimum-wage proposal, including 2nd District congressional candidate French Hill of Little Rock and 4th District congressional candidate state Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs. Both said Friday they continue to oppose the measure.

“I would support an Arkansas minimum wage increase if it didn’t negatively impact Arkansas jobs,” Hill said in an email. “However, the Obama economy is squeezing the middle class, and we need to move beyond minimum wage jobs and start building careers, opportunities and real choices for all Arkansans.”

The Stephens answer would be in keeping with Hill's previous pattern and his natural low-wage inclination.

However bad the Obama administration has been on the economy, J. French Hill is a happy outlier. He engineered the sale of the bank he led to a larger bank (nobody has noted that such consolidations often produce a net drop in jobs through efficiencies of scale).  That merger was worth a $4 million payday to Hill through his stock, warrants, options and "supplemental executive retirement plan." Most of that windfall can be taxed at the low capital gains tax rate. Poor ol' J. French. If we'd had a better president, he'd REALLY have made some money.

It's pretty simple. Will J. French Hill mark his ballot yes or no? I've asked. Absent an answer, I'll mark him as I did yesterday — firmly in the "craven" category.

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