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Good week: tax cuts 

March 16-22, 2011

It was a good week for ...

TAX CUTS. Democrats and Republicans worked out a $35 million package of tax cuts. It's a pittance against the quarter of a billion of tax increases that the highway builders hope to get separately. But pittance is good when essential state services are strained to the breaking point and the Tea Party kill-government cry sounds so loudly.

ATTORNEY GENERAL DUSTIN MCDANIEL. His office has now entered the fray with calm and correct testimony about the unconstitutionality of a spate of anti-abortion bills Republicans have introduced to attempt to end availability of legal abortion in Arkansas.

ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE PUBLISHER WALTER HUSSMAN. He sold the old Gazette building, valued at $1.1 million when he purchased the paper from Gannett, for $5.3 million to the eStem charter school, which had been leasing it from him. Hussman is one of the leading supporters of eStem and other charter schools. He'd loaned the school more than $3 million, at 6 percent, to improve the building.

TAX INCREASES. See Max Brantley's column.

It was a bad week for ...

LEGISLATIVE HYPOCRITES. (Nearly all of them.) The blog Blue Hog Report provided rich detail on the pay supplements, likely unconstitutional, drawn by nearly all legislators. Particularly embarrassing were copies of the bogus bills for consulting services — from themselves — that lawmakers submitted for reimbursement. Republicans stood out because they cashed the smelly checks amid continuing attacks on tiny state spending increases, as small as $6,000 for the Arkansas School for the Deaf.

SECRETARY OF STATE MARK MARTIN. With a fleet of state cars at his disposal, he bought a new car for state Board of Apportionment use without approval of the other two members of the board, Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. He also hired one employee and one consultant – both Republican operatives – to do board work. Lawful, low-cost government from the self-styled reformer this was not.

The STATE FAIR AND LIVESTOCK SHOW. A consultant said it would cost $200 million to move the fair from a bad neighborhood in Little Rock to northern Pulaski County. To make $1 million or so a year in profit.

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