More corporate handouts put Arkansans in debt

More corporate handouts put Arkansans in debt

by Michael Kalagias*

Arkansas has a constitution that required a balanced budget to ensure responsible government spending and long term financial security and stability for our state. Unfortunately, that requirement has been breached over the years by loopholes like those in Amendment 82, which is now being used to justify a taxpayer subsidy to the Lockheed-Martin Corporation.

Arkansas currently has an outright debt of about $3 billion. If you include unfunded pension and other retirement debts that jumps to a whopping $38 billion! Now the Governor wants to add another $87 million to our debt as a gift to Lockheed Martin in the hopes that they might employ a few hundred Arkansans. This is a completely unnecessary expenditure of corporate welfare. Lockheed Martin has just as good a chance of winning a taxpayer funded contract to construct military vehicles here in Arkansas without Arkansas’ $87million dollar gift as they would with it. It is nothing more than a cash payout to a huge firm that employs an army of lobbyists and doles out significant campaign contributions – a quid pro quo arrangement that hurts all Arkansans not in the “political class.”  This comes just a short time after our last governor requested and got $125 million dollars of our hard earned tax dollars to give to Big River steel so they could open a new steel plant to compete with the existing Nucor steel in our state.

Bringing business and industry to Arkansas is important so that good jobs are available throughout the state. If spending is needed to improve infrastructure (roads, ports, training, etc…) for that – go ahead and budget for that in the regular BALANCED budget. I’m all for it. I’d also love to see a tax policy that lowers taxes for everyone and creates a climate for job growth that benefits everyone, not just one or two picked “winners.” Going further into debt just to give a multimillion dollar gift to one corporation, however, is outrageously irresponsible and reprehensible and should not even be considered.

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*Michael Kalagias was the 2014 Libertarian candidate for State House District 96, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas.

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