Minimum Wage, Maximum Suffering

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Yesterday, I attended a press conference hosted by Give Arkansas A Raise Now. What I heard were a bunch of demands that Arkansas raise its minimum wage -- and a bunch of assertions that doing so would have a positive impact on our state’s economy. What I didn’t hear was any empirical evidence that backs up this claim. The group is led by Steve Copley, a United Methodist pastor. One reporter at the briefing asked him to respond to the argument that raising the minimum wage will force layoffs … [Read more...]

Arkansas Has 2nd Highest Combined Sales Tax

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A new study from our friends at the Tax Foundation spell bad news for Arkansans: according to their findings, Arkansas has the second highest combined state/local sales tax rates in the country at 9.18%.  Our neighbors in Tennessee come in at number one with an average rate of 9.44%. It is worth noting, however, that Tennessee does not have a state income tax like we do in Arkansas. In fact, our income tax also ranks near the top amongst the 50 states at a top rate of 7%. And by the way: … [Read more...]

Ray Hanley’s Three Medicaid Fallacies

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I see that Ray Hanley has responded to my Arkansas Business commentary on Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. Ray Hanley is a smart guy and a provocative writer, but his response demonstrates the extraordinary financial and intellectual weakness of the case for the “private option.” Notably, in my original article, I posed six questions that I believe that advocates of Medicaid expansion cannot satisfactorily answer; in his response, out of those six questions, Hanley addressed two. Even in just … [Read more...]

Hot Air: Beebe and Nordex Fail to Keep Lofty Promises, Taxpayers Left Holding the Bag

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Less than five years ago, the possibilities seemed endless. Nordex USA had just announced its intention to move to Arkansas and create hundreds of new jobs. The age of renewable energy was finally here -- and it was going to lift Arkansans out of poverty and into prosperity. Arkansas would finally be the “land of opportunity.” Heck, we might even change the state motto back! You see, Nordex wasn’t just promising jobs -- they (and Governor Beebe) were promising careers. In fact, that’s what their … [Read more...]

Congressman Crawford’s Catfish Quandary

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Happy National Catfish Day! In 1987, President Ronald Reagan designated today (June 25th) as a day to “celebrate the value of farm-raised catfish.” Here’s part of Reagan’s proclamation that he issued some years ago: More and more Americans are discovering a uniquely American food delicacy — farm-raised catfish. In 1986, catfish comprised the third highest volume of finned fish consumed in the United States. Ninety-nine percent of all these catfish were farm-raised. Between 1975 and 1985, … [Read more...]

Senator Teague’s Building Implosion

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Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Senator Larry Teague’s proposal to require all public construction projects in Arkansas to use “American-made” products. At that time, Senator Teague told me he thought the bill would “be law by the end of the week.” After that, the bill sat in the Senate for several weeks with no action until it was finally passed out of Senate Committee this week. Today, the full Senate voted on the bill. It received 17 votes, one shy of the 18 needed to pass. The vote … [Read more...]

Raising the Minimum Wage: Unfair to Working Students And Still a Bad Idea

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The House Public Health Committee is slated to take up Rep. Butch Wilkins’s minimum wage hike tomorrow morning. The proposal would raise the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.25 -- unless you’re a full-time student who works less than 20 hours a week. Under current law, these students are only entitled to 85% of minimum wage -- Rep. Wilkins’s bill would cut that percentage by 20 points, down to 65%. What would the real effect be for working full-time students? Let’s do some … [Read more...]

Why Hiking the Minimum Wage is Bad for Everyone

minimum wage

This week, state Representative Butch Wilkins introduced a bill to increase the government-mandated minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.25 per hour -- an increase of 32%. Raising the minimum wage is one of those ideas that sounds great as long as you don’t think about it very much. Perhaps the most immediate consequence for Arkansans will be the artificial spike in prices on consumer goods. How many of you would like to pay 32% more for your meals? But of course you won’t pay exactly 32% more for … [Read more...]