Approximately 65 percent of Arkansas voters are either against or undecided on Issue 3, according to a poll released yesterday.
As readers of this blog have read before, Issue 3 would abolish the current 5 percent general revenue cap for state spending on general obligation bonded debt — the kind of debt lawmakers use to fund projects to lure private business to the Natural State.
Basically, Arkansas legislators are currently shackled by the Arkansas Constitution, which allows for only limited spending for these kinds of Amendment 82 projects. The proposed amendment would remove those shackles. The Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, AEDC Director Mike Preston, and others think this is a great idea.
However, according to a poll released yesterday, the amendment is only receiving support from 35 percent of the Arkansas electorate.
Issue 3 is a constitutional amendment to encourage economic development. It would remove the current cap of 5% on general obligation bonds for economic projects. It would also allow local governments to obtain or provide money for other entities to support economic development projects or services. If the election were held today, would you vote for or against this proposal?
35% Don’t Know
The poll has a 4.6 percent margin of error, so Issue 3 support and opposition are basically tied — with over a third of voters apparently unaware of the amendment’s existence.
AEDC’s Preston told The Arkansas Project in a statement that the state’s fiscal condition wouldn’t be jeopardized in the pursuit of luring businesses to the state.
Every individual project must still go in front of the legislature in order to be approved. AEDC, the Governor’s Office and the legislature will perform due diligence on each issue and we would never jeopardize the state’s fiscal condition for any company.
This is an opportunity to grow in our overall competitiveness with other states as we work to bring more jobs and capital investment to Arkansas. If this does not pass, we fall behind our competitors.
David Ray, state director for Americans For Prosperity, told The Arkansas Project that abolishing the 5 percent cap on general obligation bonds is “risky for taxpayers and imprudent.”
Our state’s Constitution already allows lawmakers to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars for economic development, and removing any limits on how much debt the state can incur is risky for taxpayers and imprudent.”
“The best way to create jobs is not by giving away handouts and corporate welfare to big business. The best way to create jobs is by improving our overall business climate through tax reform, regulatory reform, and lawsuit abuse reform.
This amendment also allows local governments to appropriate taxpayer money to economic development projects. So, if you’ve ever thought it was a grave injustice that your Justice of the Peace or alderman couldn’t be a venture capitalist with your taxpayer dollars, this amendment is for you. I hope to address the local government aspect of this amendment in a future post.