The people of Arkansas, for decades, were promised rising income levels if only taxes were raised to increase spending on public education.
Education including a skilled work force is merely one factor of economic growth. But to proponents of tax increases it remains the only factor.
Taxes were raised in 1983 and, again, in 2004 with the following result: Arkansas ranked 47th, 48th or 49th nationally in per capita income, with a level 75 to 78 percent of the U.S. thru 2006. In sum, income improved by three-hundredths in nearly a quarter-century.
This is the sad economic record defended by tax increase proponents, and itís time they were called on it. Their policies ate the seed, and caused capital, jobs and paychecks to flee Arkansas.
The long-suffering people of Arkansas deserve better.
They deserve policies that create a vast, stable and prosperous middle class, not the flawed ideas that did so much to create a state of poverty in the land once known for its opportunity.
They deserve the opportunity to achieve the American dream through good-paying private sector jobs that provide upward mobility. Their children deserve the opportunity to learn in safe and functional educational environments. This generation and future generations deserve good government that is accountable to citizens and transparent.
The Policy Foundation has a long-standing interest in expanding prosperity. Our nonprofit, since its 1995 founding has fought for fiscal and education reforms.
Weíve made recommendations enacted by policymakers. Public officials engaged in a sincere dialogue to enact policies to create prosperity in Arkansas. Thanks to their efforts, the following recommendations were enacted:
o Thirty (30) percent capital gains exemption;
o Two-thirds reduction in the state sales tax on groceries.
o Charter school expansion;
o A uniform, statewide K-12 accounting system.
A new policy was enacted in 2007. Education spending was maintained but the largest tax cut in Arkansas history was also enacted. Arkansas improved its national income rank to 45th, and then 44th, with a level 82 percent of the U.S.-the highest in history. Itís time to build on that record with additional tax cuts and education reforms.
Only a market-based system-and economically sound policies-can birth the sustained prosperity capable of creating, and expanding, a vast, stable and prosperous Arkansas middle class. This roadmap to prosperity provides directions to encourage that process.