Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tea Party-Secure Arkansas Coalition Opposes More State Debt



The Washington County Tea Party has released an excellent letter about the debt election on November the 8th.  They and Secure Arkansas are leading a growing campaign against more state debt that now includes the following groups: 


Secure Arkansas (securearkansas.com)
Washington County Tea Party (washingtoncountyteaparty.com)
Pulaski County Tea Party (pulaskicountyteaparty.com) 
River Valley Tea Party (on FB) 
Boone County Tea Party (boonecountyteaparty.com)
Little River Patriots (on Facebook) 
Americans for Constitutional Government (Fort Smith)
Northeast Arkansas Tea Party (northeastarkansasteaparty.jigsy.com) Miller County Patriots (millercountypatriots.com)

Of particular note: a similar bond plan started in 1999 appears to have cost us $264 million highway dollars in interest to get $575 million a few years early.   That does not include bond fees, brokers commissions, or legal fees.  We could have had over half that $575 million in only four years simply by spending the money as it came in.
The letter follows.....
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“I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse.” -James Madison, the Father of the Constitution

 Everyone is on "issue overload," but public debt is an important issue, and once again a "special election" is being called (November 8), hoping you won't pay attention or care so they can keep us loaded down in more debt.  This is becoming a disturbing trend in Arkansas--"special elections" where 2% to 5% of voters turn out and vote more taxes on the thousands of other citizens who were not even aware of the election but will now have to pay the tax.  This needs toSTOP.
Washington County Tea Party has created a flyer which is being distributed around the state for educating the public (attached).  Notice the list of tea party groups who stand in agreement in opposing debt. Every corner of the state has been reached with activists who agree with the anti-debt message and are distributing this flyer.  Can you help print and distribute a few to people you know?  Can you forward this to your Arkansas contacts and ask them to forward it to their Arkansas contacts?  We have potential to reach a lot more people that way.
We are finding that even some activists had misunderstandings about the "debt election" on November 8, but most are 100% on board with opposing more debt, a major tenet of tea parties across the country.  We have compiled some "frequently asked questions" (below) which may answer some questions you might have about this so you can be informed and able to educate people you know about why we must stand opposed to debt. This information is also on our web site, so you may refer your friends to www.washingtoncountyteaparty.com.  
"We the People" still have power to stop this if enough people do just a little bit and help spread the word.
Frequently Asked Questions
 1)   The roads in my area of the state need to be repaired. I want my roads fixed, so isn't this a legitimate means to do that?
This debt measure does not affect any state or local roads, so your local roads will not get fixed just because this bond passes.  The bond money is supposed to be used only for maintaining existing interstates.  . 
2) I am a conservative, but I think maintaining roads is something the public should spend money for. 
Please understand, we all want properly maintained roadsWe agree that maintaining roads should be a priority as a legitimate use of taxpayer money. Since Arkansas is known as the highest taxed Southern state, why can they not find a way to maintain roads without going into debt? We need to address that issue before we agree to continue the vicious cycle of debt for routine road maintenance.
Put another way, if it is really true, as "Move Arkansas Forward" is claiming, that we must maintain or "modernize" our roads by going into debt to do so, then that proves our point that highway funds have been mismanaged, and the answer is not to keep repeating the same mistake.
By the way, Move Arkansas Forward is co-chaired by the same man who chairs the Arkansas Highway Commission (Madison Murphy of Murphy Oil--Wal-Mart gas pumps), and they are putting out conflicting information about what this bond money would do.  They insist on one hand that this is only about maintaining what we already have, while also promising to "modernize" and add exits, ramps, and bridges. So which is true?  How can we know?  The Arkansas Highway Commission is not elected or accountable to us for how the funds will be spent.
Which brings us to the next point--how can anyone know what roads will need maintenance 15 years from now?  No one can, so why not just use existing federal funds to pay as we go where it is needed most?
3)  Since this does not raise taxes, why should we not agree to a bond measure if it will fix our roads?
First of all, a bond is still debt, and debt is a still a form of enslavement, as it has been throughout time.

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt” - Thomas Jefferson

Secondly, the ballot language clearly states that if revenues from federal highway funds or fuel taxes do not come in, repayment will have to be made from the general fund.  That means we taxpayers will be on the hook should those funds not come through.  There is a potential then for a tax increase to cover it, or else spending will have to be cut somewhere else, and how likely is that? 
4) Wouldn't we save money in the long run if we go ahead and invest now while they are able to get this reduced interest rate?
Interest rates were not very high in 2000 either, yet we will have paid an estimated $264 MILLION* in interest to get that $575 million a few years early.  You read that right. That figure does not include bond commission fees or legal fees.  It does not make economic sense to keep letting our highway funds be eaten up in interest and fees.  If we just spend the money as it comes in, we would have over half of it in just four years with no interest or fees!  Bear in mind they took three years to get the full $575 million the first time, and no one can guarantee what interest rates will be 3 years from now.



*See this story from 2005.

5)  Businesses, particularly tourism businesses, need good roads.  If businesses lose revenue because of poor roads, it takes years to attract business back to the state.
Agreed, and again, this is only about interstates, and debt is not the solution.  The fact is, the high taxes in this state are an even bigger deterrent to business, and there is potential for even higher taxes if we end up without enough revenue to pay back these bonds.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Christine said...

They can't demonize one group when they're all agreed that debt is the wrong solution for fixing our roads!

8:46 AM, October 19, 2011  
Anonymous L. Wiles said...

The letter states that "bond money is supposed to be used only for maintaining existing interstates."
The ballot reads "Pursuant to the Bond Act, § 27-64-401 et seq., the highway improvements to be financed are limited to the restoration and improvements to all of the interstate highway system within the state, including roadways,
bridges, or rights-of-way under jurisdiction of the State Highway Commission, which shall also include the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, and renovation of such interstate highway system and facilities appurtenant or pertaining thereto."
Does that not mean the money could be used to construct interstates?

3:45 PM, October 19, 2011  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Good catch L. Wiles. The Commission's minions have been telling us that it would only cover maintenance. Yet another contradiction from them. Of course, they are also going around hinting that passing this thing could get some stuff built, so they say whatever they need think will work with who they are talking to at the moment.

4:49 PM, October 19, 2011  
Anonymous L. Wiles said...

I have clarification regarding the term construction on the ballot. The funds can not be used for construction meaning increasing interstate miles or adding lanes. However, "construction" would allow a new bridge to be constructed if that is necessary and would also allow for improving interchanges.

10:42 AM, October 25, 2011  

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