Jon Woods has apparent way to restore tax money to chambers of commerce | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jon Woods has apparent way to restore tax money to chambers of commerce

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 1:10 PM

HELP FOR THE CHAMBERS: Sen. Jon Woods offers some.
  • HELP FOR THE CHAMBERS: Sen. Jon Woods offers some.
The chambers of commerce apparently have their vehicle to restore tax subsidies put in jeopardy by Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce's ruling that the Arkansas Constitution forbids local tax money contributions to private corporations such as chambers of commerce.

Pierce ruled in a lawsuit supported by the Arkansas Public Law Center. He said contracts in Little Rock and North Little Rock were poorly disguised — "lipstick on a pig" — artifices to avoid the constitutional prohibition and enjoined them. Such contracts — some with more care to legal niceties than others — are commonplace around the state. A final version of Pierce's order is still in the drafting process, but chambers apparently have been working behind the scenes

Here's a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Jon Woods of Springdale, home to a chamber long a beneficiary of public tax dollars. It ppears aimed at  legalizing these payments.

It purports to encourage economic development. I think this is the key phrase: 


What better incentive than to pay the salaries and benefits of local chamber of commerce officials, which Little Rock and North Little Rock and others have been doing in cumulative millions over the years? Of course, this language would have even broader application. It would allow direct contributions by cities to private businesses, to bribe them to locate somewhere — even merely to move across the Arkansas River from one city to another.

Cities already may enter legitimate — emphasis, legitimate — service contracts. They could request proposals from all comers to provide economic development consulting with specific parameters. They could require explicit performance reports. They could require specific disclosure of expenses. Here, the cities just provide a flat subsidy to operate the chamber, payments to support what the chamber was doing with private money in the first place. It is more offensive to the public because the chambers are political operations. They lobby against unions, workers compensation, universal health care, progressive taxation and any number of other issues on which strong public divisions exist. It's legal, but taxpayers shouldn't finance lobbying against their interests. (Here and elsewhere, taxpayers provide both direct subsidies to chambers and subsidies to regional development organization operated by chambers — same kettle of fish.)

A legislature soon to consider a law to prohibit public employees from lobbying, if it approves this, will approve of shipping money by the truckload to chambers of commerce for lobbying.

Sen. Jon Woods is the right man to tote this corporate welfare. He's the mastermind of Amendment 94, the new "ethics" amendment. It allows Woods, who has no real job outside the legislature, to serve longer at the legislature, soon with a 150 percent pay raIse, and to draw full per diem, including for days not worked and including days where lobbyists have lined up to feed andwater him for free.

If you don't think  freebies don't pay dividends, see corporate welfare proposals such as this.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Turkeys rescued in Yellville enjoy their Thanksgiving

    Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection organization, sends word that four turkeys rescued from the Yellville Turkey Trot after the annual drops from buildings and an airplane will enjoy Thanksgiving in friendlier places
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • The New Orleans charter school 'miracle'? It's a ruse

    The New Orleans Tribune has a devastating piece of editorial commentary, based on local reporting and test scores, that lays bare the depiction of the charterization of New Orleans public schools 12 years ago as a miracle of the "reform" movement.
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • More criticism of UA proposal to change tenure policy

    Reason is among the latest to offer critical commentary of a proposal from University of Arkansas System lawyers to change the tenure policy so that a lack of collegiality could be used as a justification for firing a tenured professor.
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Judge anticipates punishment of lawyers in Fort Smith class action case

    Federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith issued a 32-page ruling yesterday indicating he contemplates punishment of 16 lawyers who moved a class action lawsuit against an insurance company out of his court to a state court in Polk County after a settlement had been worked out.
    • Apr 15, 2016
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016

Most Recent Comments



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