Ruling on tax money for chambers of commerce gets statewide notice | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ruling on tax money for chambers of commerce gets statewide notice

Posted By on Sat, Jan 10, 2015 at 7:13 AM

I wrote last week that there'd be statewide ripple effects from Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce's ruling that Little Rock and North Little Rock were unconstitutionally providing taxpayer subsidies to local chambers of commerce and a chamber-run development organization

Pierce ruled that the Arkansas Constitution prohibits municipal payments to private corporations and that the cities' effort to call the money service contracts was an artifice — lipstick on a pig in his memorable words.

The ruling likely will be appealed. 

Meanwhile, th
e Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce has sent an alarm to chambers of commerce around the state. I've obtained a memo sent by Susie Marks, senior vice president for programs at the State Chamber:

Attached and below is excerpt from a ruling from Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce concerning local chambers and economic development organizations that receive funding via contract from their local municipality.

Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce today granted a partial summary judgment in favor of a taxpayer lawsuit over payments by the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock to chambers of commerce. Pierce held that the payments violated the state constitutional prohibition against municipal appropriations to private corporations and enjoined any further payments.

Although this ruling was made from a case involving chambers and economic development organizations in Little Rock and North Little Rock, there is a high probability this ruling will have a ripple effect across the state. We need to know as soon as possible if you have a contract with your local municipality for economic development, marketing or any other services. This is of high importance and we would like to gather this information as soon as possible.

When responding please let me know the type of contract (ED, A&P, etc), the amount, staff paid from the contract and the reporting you provide back to the municipality.

The taxpayers' lawsuit, supported by the Arkansas Public Law Center, of which I'm a board member, and argued by the McMath Law Firm, has already brought a number of inquiries from people around the state anxious to be sure their cities fall in line. I've received reports of at least two cities that continued subsidy payments to local chambers this week. With the lawsuit pending and a hearing for summary judgment scheduled, the city of Little Rock authorized a continued $350,000 subsidy of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce in its 2015 budget.

Reporting is a key element of the legal dispute. The city gets no meaningful accounting for how its money is spent. The lawsuit argued that the money provides no specific services, but merely subsidizes the salaries and expenses of Chamber employees who'd be doing the same work anyway, along with their political lobbying on a variety of topics on which there is, to put it mildly, sharp differences of opinion among those who provide the city its tax money. The city is friendly to the chamber because it provides the structural support and money for tax-increase campaigns.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Bipartisan deal to continue subsidies Trump ended. But ...

    Everyone's reporting that Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander have struck a bipartisan deal on to continue federal subsidies for health coverage that Donald Trump cut off.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • Tuesday: Open line, news roundup

    The open line, plus the day's news roundup.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • James Lee Witt corrects Trump on grade for Puerto Rico relief effort

    Donald Trump twice yesterday used James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's widely hailed FEMA director and now in the private business of assisting in disasters, as a reference on the work he's done responding to hurricanes this year. Media, particularly on the conservative end, have echoed the Trump remarks.But hold on: Witt wasn't talking about Puerto Rico.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Tuesday: Open line, news roundup

    • As I remember and I could be misremembering, that the ICE raids usually took place…

    • on October 17, 2017
  • Re: Tuesday: Open line, news roundup

    • OMG--could he be any more insensitive? Trump told soldier's widow 'he knew what he signed…

    • on October 17, 2017
  • Re: The Medicaid charade explained

    • How I Got My Desired Loan Amount From A Reliable Loan Company. My name is…

    • on October 17, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation