Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beebe Kept Legislators in the Dark on Budget

Here are the assembled members of the Arkansas Legislature, as seen through the eyes of Governor Mike Beebe. The Governor believes the best way for them to thrive is to be kept in the dark and fed male bovine fecal matter.
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Last week the Governor declared a special session in which he permitted members of the legislature wide latitude on how they could hold the rubber stamp which they used to approve all of his plans without deviation. For the most part, they either quietly rolled over or even loudly cheered their marginalization. They voted many to few that there was a highway funding "emergency" which forced them to approve the Governor's plan for natural gas severance taxes now, now, now- rather than wait for the regular session seven months from now when they would not be bound by the Governor's special call.

I applaud our young service men and women fighting abroad to maintain our freedom and right to self-government. I only wish members of the legislature would exercise that right once in a while. What do they face that is more fearsome than the guns and bombs our young soldiers face?

The Governor's plan was to divert 95% of the revenues from the tax increase and use it to fund a tax cut for working families. Just kidding. Lighting has already struck once on that issue, and Mike Beebe shows no intention of ever doing that again, no matter how badly Arkansas families are hurting nor how fat with surplus funds the state government is. His plan on tax cuts is to keep talking ad nauseum about the one he gave in the past in order to avoid giving one in the future, even if it is only sharing revenues from a new tax increase with the People.

His actual plan was to divert 95% of the severance tax increase money from General Revenue to "roads" (without mentioning which roads get built). The legislature voted with the understanding that there was plenty of money in the General Revenue. One week later, the state releases a report that claims there WON'T be enough General Revenue to fund all budget items in 2009.

According to this Demozette article, "He said he didn’t reveal the budget cut during the special legislative session last week because he had made no decision about how much to cut."

Right. They don't need to know anything except where the "Yea" switch is when your plan is presented, right Governor?

"He said that even if he had told lawmakers about it, he would have had no worries about them wanting to steer the severance tax increase — expected to yield $ 57 million next year — to the general revenue budget."

Well then why not let them know what is coming so that their vote will be an informed one?

This [the severance tax ] is a specific itemized program with a totally new and different revenue source for highways,” Beebe said. “It’s got nothing to do with general revenue. We’ve been upfront all the way around on this that we wanted it for highways. [General revenue is ] a totally different deal."

The Governor is full of mushroom food. The gas severance tax has everything to do with General Revenue. That was where severance tax money was going until they just changed it. The modest severance tax that we had went 100% to general revenues, and they had to change the language in the law to divert 95% of it to this new "highway" fund. And no one seems to know just which "highways" will be built or maintained with this "different revenue source for highways" except the Governor. That just seems to be the way he likes doing business. Meanwhile the branch that is supposed to have the "power of the purse strings" acts like Beebe's got incriminating photos on 80% of them.

The idea that the severance tax has "nothing to do with highways" is like your spouse purchasing a new sports car and then claiming that it has "nothing to do with the family budget" because it was financed out of your raise, which is "a totally new source of money for new sports cars". The implication that money spent on one thing could not have been spent on another instead is absurd. And if your spouse used that raise to buy the sports car, and then you found out the next week that your spouse knew at the time they diverted the money that you were going to face that cash crunch, then I suppose you might be a tad upset. Unless, apparently, you are an Arkansas legislator (80% anyway).

2 Comments:

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