Surplus Continues to Pile Up in Arkansas Treasury
Official state portrait of Arkansas Governor Elisha Baxter 1873-74.
The Federal government may be hopelessly in debt, and states from sea to shining sea are facing massive budget shortfalls, but Arkansas continues to pile up a surplus, 30 million above forecasts last month alone. That adds to the pile of 300 million dollars in surplus that is already sitting in the state Treasury.
There is no assurance revenues will continue to come in high, but the bubble of the last decade mostly missed our state. Since we were not artificially pumped up, we did not have as far to fall. But the same could be said of several states, and their state governments have still managed to get them in fiscal trouble.
The real credit for the strong fiscal position of this state goes to men who lived 130 years ago. It was not our current crop of leaders who insisted on a balance budget, it was the dead white guys who wrote our state constitution in 1873. It is not our current crop who insist on a 3/4ths majority before the state can raise your taxes, it was men who lived 130 years ago. It is not the people we have currently elected to the state legislature who made it so hard for the state to borrow against the future earnings of the people, but rather those great statesman who lived 130 years ago.
It is sad to see how far we have fallen from the times of those wise and independent spirits who erected barriers to prevent the curse of massive government. Now, usually with the approval of the people, our current leaders try every thing they can to undo the wisdom of our state fathers. While they have not found a way around the balanced budget amendment, they have chipped away at the original prohibitions against debt so that now we use debt even when we could use cash- a policy that will enrich the financers. They have undermined the intent of the constitution by inventing new taxes, and then claiming that those taxes do not require a 3/4th majority to pass since they were not in existence at the time of the constitution's adoption. This is a dubious claim.
Because they have spent the last 80 years chipping away at what protected us from the curse of huge government, government has grown. And make no mistake about it, big government is a judgment of God. It has been since at least 1st Samuel Chapter 8. It is a curse that happens to people who can't govern themselves. It is a yoke of oppression placed on those who are envious of their neighbor's earnings. It is a reproach on the wealthy of a society who fail to find joy in private giving to the poor; joyless taxation for the welfare state then attempts to replace the absent private charity.