Our View: On health care, highway funding: Find a better way

Isn’t it interesting that one of the state’s largest bureaucracies, the Department of Human Services (DHS), can simply waste millions of tax dollars on a mismanaged and botched up system that gives a half million Arkansans free or subsidized health care and the bureaucrats on the other side of the spectrum who manage all the millions of tax dollars to keep our roads maintained can’t ever have enough money. Even when state highway officials learn the federal highway bill includes $250 million in additional funding for highways in Arkansas they still say there isn’t enough money to take advantage of that additional $250 million. While Arkansas spends a whopping $7.3 BILLION on its subsidized Medicaid program for such things as food stamps, free housing, free medical care, free child care and many other subsidies, we’re bombarded with threats and promises that if we don’t shell out more of our tax dollars to fix and maintain our roads, highways, and bridges the situation will only worsen. Now, were being told proponents of raising an estimated $50 million for the state highways will need the political support of cities such as West Memphis and Marion. Highway Commission Chairman Dick Trammel appealed for city leaders throughout the state, attending a recent Arkansas Municipal League conference in Springdale, to support such proposals as raising fuel taxes and other ideas being tossed around by Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s special working group formed to find ways to increase highway funding. The big obstacle these promoters for more tax dollars for roads is the fact the majority of Arkansans are opposed to higher taxes and why shouldn’t they be when well over a half million of them don’t have enough spendable income to buy groceries to feed their children. There is no doubt, the current method of generating enough money to fix, maintain and expand our state roads and highways is antiquated and negatively impacted by the decades of environmental pressure to reduce fossil fuel consumption which has resulted in less fuel taxes being collected. It has been shown from poll results that the majority of Arkansans are sick and tired of being tapped for more of their money, and are telling the bureaucrats and politicians to simply find the needed road money somewhere else within the existing state budget. While that proposal has been gaining popularity among the decision makes within this governor’s working group there is strong resistance coming from the bureaucrats within the various state agencies who say their budgets are off limits to such a money grab. While it seems there is always new revenues to fund the multimillion-dollar education system, dump millions upon millions of dollars in the state’s welfare agencies and millions more on providing beds, clothes and food for the state’s prison population there seems to be constant begging for more tax dollars to patch the growing number of neglected highways. The strategy of those proponents for higher road taxes is that if they just let the roads get so bad and neglected the people will simply give in to the demands but, hopefully they are wise enough to figure out there are other ways to skin the cat such as using existing budget funds.


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