Budget Numbers Cooperative for Beebe
It once again appears as if the state has an embarrassingly large accumulation of excess tax collections on hand- $260 million. At least it would be embarrassing if the special interests in Little Rock could feel any shame. They are now circling like buzzards in hopes of getting the money. Meanwhile, the families who originally earned the money are hurting, but only a few legislators like (R)Bryan King of Berryville are talking about tax cuts. For the rest of them, you can never give your government enough of your earnings! No matter how much they over-collect, they want more.
And while we are on the subject of budgets, you may recall from April (scroll to 7-10th)postings on this site that the budget numbers have done some pretty weird things under the Beebe administration. Even budget director Richard Weiss thought so!
When the special session was going on, Beebe wanted a huge increase in the Natural Gas Severance tax. He also wanted 95% of the money from that tax diverted from general revenue to his special super-secret road program. When the legislature was in session, he gave no hint that the general revenues were in trouble. His legislation was rammed through, but outside the session he drew strong criticism for his failure to share any of the severance money with hurting Arkansas families at a time when the state treasury was overflowing. A week after the session it was leaked that the state's General Revenues were predicted to be way down! Beebe did not feel the need to tell the legislature about those projections when they met a few days before to divert money from the General Revenue to his special program. Apparently, all the Governor thinks they need to know is how to use a rubber stamp.
At any rate, the "emergency" cuts in the budget and dire predictions of losses in revenue struck me as a little odd considering the shale play and other factors. It seemed more like a convenient cover for Beebe's greed in keeping all of the severance tax money for government rather than sharing it with the People in the form of tax cuts. Lo and behold, the new figures contain no hint of the massive revenue loss. Instead, they show that the state continues to over-collect taxes!
The last time this happened, the legislature completely caved to the Governor and the special interests. Let's see if we can get them to be on our side for a change.