A pulse in the governor? Is that what I detect?

Yes, I’ve been rather hard on my old friend the governor the last couple of weeks.

Mike Beebe’s passive, philosophy-devoid style of governing in the face of a troglodytic overthrow of reason — not to mention his throwing in on a grocery-tax alliance with the chief troglodyte. . . well, some people have told me that was disrespectfully derisive of me the other day to call him “Mikey.”

It was just frustration, I think. Anyway, it was better than his real name, Mickey Dale. Those real names will get you in Arkansas, said Johnny Ray the columnist.

I do not think it was as bad as referring to Mike Huckabee as “Wide Body” or Bill Clinton as “Slick Willie.”

So you know. . . get over it.

But one thing I can do is take note when a combative pulse is detected at long last in the governor.

It happened Tuesday, I’m advised, when Mikey spoke at a “Razorback luncheon” to a bevy of University of  Arkansas people in connection with “Razorback Day” at the Capitol.

That was when all the politicos got to touch Bret Bielema, the only undefeated football coach in the history of the University of Arkansas.

What the governor indicated to the group is that ths Legislature is going to get on the fighting side of him, not on abortion or guns, but when it moves later in the session on state Rep. Charlie Collins’ bill to rearrange the state income tax rates in a way that would (1) make them fairer to the middle class, but (2) lower them needlessly on elite income as well, and (3) have the general budget effect of reducing the state Treasury.

What always happens when state general revenues get reduced, Beebe told the group, is that colleges and universities take the hit.

And he said he’s going to fight it.

He won’t even push his own grocery tax drawdown unless certain anticipated new revenue flows occur. And while it apparently was out of the question that he might stand up publicly in an anticipatory way to resist this fetus and gun madness, it is entirely appropriate in his mind to stand up publicly in an anticipatory way and warn these yahoos not to send him something untenable on the budget.

His passion politically? Well, there seem to be two. One is that he just loves fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets and avoiding shortfalls. He goes wobbly-kneed over that. The other is that he didn’t have much chance in life until Arkansas State University educated him and the University of Arkansas Law School made him a lawyer, and he wants to use his governorship to protect and advance higher education as much as he can.

I remember when he was president pro tem of the Senate, and he took me into his office to show me how he’d found a little change under the sofa cushions of state government and intended to insist that it all go to colleges and unversities.

But he’s right that if the Republicans reduce income tax revenue into the General Fund, the following will happen: Public schools will get theirs because there’s a court ruling. Medicaid will get its because it has an untenable shortfall already. Prison will get theirs because there is an interest in keeping bad people in jail as much as we can afford.

That leaves college and universities on the theory that they can raise tuition if it comes to that, even as we reduce scholarships under the struggling lottery.

So if we can ever get past the gun and abortion madness and get down to mathematics, this governor appears ready finally to engage actively in what some people call public policy debate.

I look forward.




22 Responses to 'A pulse in the governor? Is that what I detect?'

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  1. If your parents can’t afford college, you don’t deserve college.

    I am proud to live in a country that, according to the data, has less upward mobility than just about any other developed country. It saves us lots of money on education and keeps people in their places.

    If the lower class starts to move into the upper class, then anarchy is the result. Inherited wealth is the principle indicator of one’s ability to lead — just ask the Stephens and the Fords.


    21 Feb 13 at 9:07 am

  2. Johnny

    You’ve found my pulse. Let me guess what county you are from in AR? Your comments are archaic and generally make me mad and sad for you, your family and, if you have any, friends. Everyone deserves a chance at success. Sucess is defined differently for each and every person. If a person is happy and feels successful in a manufacturing job, technical trade, working in a fast food restaurant, teaching, farming, being a doctor or lawyer, or perhaps working in maintenance or housekeeping, so be it. There are very few jobs or professions in life today that do not require some type of continuing education. It’s called economic development. It’s building a skilled workforce that rises to the challenge of our advances in educaton, science and technology. If a person desires to further their education through college, they deserve that opportunity. Yes, they will have to work for it.

    Maybe you jest in your comments, but I fear you do not. I will pray for you and others with your mindset.


    21 Feb 13 at 10:58 am

  3. Tiff: I think Johnny is being ironic.


    21 Feb 13 at 11:09 am

  4. The governor is indeed wise for picking his battles, and his life is exhibit A on education being the ticket up. I think he sees that the abortion and gun issues will be taken up at the federal level in some way or another; no need to get his hands dirty messing with those.


    21 Feb 13 at 11:24 am

  5. GTK – maybe I need to follow Johnny more often. I guess I got caught up in the irony…


    21 Feb 13 at 11:26 am

  6. “Bret Bielema, the only undefeated football coach in the history of the University of Arkansas.” He’s also the only football coach in UA history never to WIN a game either; even John L. Smith managed to win a few. Ah, the joys of a 0-0 record…


    21 Feb 13 at 12:27 pm

  7. As far as a higher education, maybe there should be a math test for those seeking public office. OOPS, nope that won’t work the Republicans don’t believe in learning math, so they’d have no one quailfied to run. It would be just as it is now.

    timber topper

    21 Feb 13 at 12:33 pm

  8. Timber, where did we get this last crop of republicans and why does Mark Pryor feel he needs to join them? Has he already forgotten Blanche Lincoln? The public is not nearly as ignorant as most politicians think they are and 2014 will reveal the truth – Koch Brothers money or not! And as far as our Governor, I’ve heard of choosing your battles but letting them get away with this ignorance about the Affordable Care Act is really putting people lives on the line!I just heard some rhetoric from Representative Cotton that I couldn’t believe he actually stated but worst of all was them reporter that let him get away with talking out of both sides of his pie hole! There day is coming and its about 20-months away and the die is being cast daily!

    Nathaniel McGee

    21 Feb 13 at 12:56 pm

  9. Don’t you get it that decreasing taxes will in fact increase revenues since the money will be spent in the economy (consumer spending the majority of gdp) and thus jobs will be created and out of state folks will move here to take advantage of lower rates. It has happened in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. Folks have moved from high income tax states like New York, California,and Illinois to the lower tax states as are the four mentioned immediately above.


    21 Feb 13 at 1:06 pm

  10. What’s up with the glasses?


    21 Feb 13 at 2:10 pm

  11. I can only hope the Federal courts do rise to the occasion and slap down those misguided legislators who determine that they know everything about life and when it begins. I am amazed at the rhetoric arising from saving lives. I guess we should make sure every child is born into a loving family, unfortunately many of those who seek abortions and are forced to keep the child will immediately turn into loving caring parents who would never think to abuse the child they did not want.
    I can only hope that is the case, but I think not.
    And, I resent that if my church determines it should not allow our members to pack a sidearm, we may have to post a poster on the front door advising church attenders that no guns are allowed. Talk about getting involved with the inner workings of a church.


    21 Feb 13 at 2:13 pm

  12. crt, your examples disprove your point.NY, Cal. and Ill. all rank in the top 15 in per capita income among the states, while Nev., Fla., Ariz. and Texas are ranked 18th to 33. Texas, often mistakenly held up as a paragon of wealth because of having no income tax, is the one ranked 33rd. Business interests are currently trumpeting on behalf of eliminating state income taxes, but it’s simply a race to the bottom. Texas is notorious for its huge gap between rich and poor.
    We also learned under Reagan the foolishness of the Laffer Curve, which falsely purported that a reduction in taxes would increase government revenues.
    Clinton summed it up well: Arithmetic!

    Walter Nunn

    21 Feb 13 at 2:38 pm

  13. […] By jbrummett […]

  14. These days there are not many parents that can afford to send their kids to college, especially the better ones, which are all private institutions. I went to SMU (which was then and is now one of those better institutions), graduating in December, 1971. The tuition was an astronomical $1,800 per year. Today the tuition is $39,430 for a year.

    But adjusting for inflation according to the CPI $1,800 in 1971 is $10,235. The tuition is 3.85 times what it would have been if it had only increased according to inflation. What that says is, if parents couldn’t afford to send their child to college in 1971, then it’s 3.85 times worse today. While there are lots of kids who go to college today that really shouldn’t for a variety of reasons (they aren’t capable enough; a college degree is not useful in the career that they want to pursue, etc.), it’s really counter productive for our country for a kid who needs college to pursue the career he wants and is capable of pursuing, to be denied that because his parents don’t make enough money. This was true in 1971 and it is today. And in 1971, assuming incomes have increased according to CPI, it’s likely that there were 3.85 times as many parents (per capita) able to pay for their kid’s college than there are in 2013. But it’s really worse than that, because the annual tuition for the better colleges vs average income is a considerably larger number, also.

    A kid’s need for college or his deservedness is that education isn’t even remotely related to his parent’s ability to pay.

    Frankly, Johnny, I hope your comment was tongue in cheek. I really do.

    Carl Bird

    21 Feb 13 at 4:18 pm

  15. Why couldn’t Beebe have vetoed all the gun bills? I tell you, I feel less safe now, and try not to go away from home much anymore.

    The abortion bills will be taken care of by the Feds eventually.

    bill kennamer

    21 Feb 13 at 4:19 pm

  16. While I’m thinking about it, Charlie Collins and his obsession with reducing the income tax is just plumb stupid. The leader in job creation is California, which also has the highest taxes.
    If you don’t have a coastline, you don’t have a prayer of attracting jobs. Maybe if Louisiana nad Texas suddenly fell into the Gulf, we’d have a chance. Personally, I’ve lived in a couple of those high income states, and I’m glad to be back here.

    Maybe Charlie should move. If any Democrats want to run against that lying snake, I’ll give what little financial support I have left to help.

    bill kennamer

    21 Feb 13 at 4:27 pm

  17. I think we all know what trickles down, and it’s not money.
    Trickle down economics is a bad joke.


    21 Feb 13 at 4:41 pm

  18. Bill you really want to hold California up as the economic model in this country? California is almost bankrupt. Check your facts.


    22 Feb 13 at 8:10 am

  19. ” The leader in job creation is California.”
    HAHAHAHA AH, HA HAH ,cough, ha ha ha ha ha ha ah

    mike graves

    22 Feb 13 at 9:03 am

  20. Not that I want to hold California up as the model for anyone’s economics, but the facts are:
    They are in fact the leader in job creation (published a month or so ago in the pages of the Arkansas Democrat)

    And, they are in fact doing better economically since Jerry Brown returned to the governor’s office.

    Bill Kennamer

    22 Feb 13 at 10:18 am

  21. John,

    I think you are right about the where the governor will focus this session: Taxes and spending. I look forward to working with him, my colleagues in the senate, and members of the house as we make those decisions.

    Charlie Collins

    22 Feb 13 at 9:14 pm

  22. Looking at this old post just for laughs. Huge one from Bill Kennamer and his rose, or should I say, Brown, colored glasses. Every labor statistic I have seen shows California as the leader in job losses, not job producer. So maybe Bill mis-read the Demo-Zette. Could it be he made a mistake? The leading state in job creation is Texas. Not only in the last year, but also the last two years and the last five years. In fact, from 2006 to 2011, Texas had more new jobs that all the other 49 states combined. Texas gained 538,000 jobs while California lost more than 1,000,000. And Bill, your theory on coastlines attracting jobs just doesn’t add up, either. From 2006 to 2011, the only two coastal states to have a net gain in jobs were Texas and Louisiana. All the rest, that includes the west coast, the east coast and the remainder of the Gulf states had job losses during that time. Check the facts, please.


    5 Mar 13 at 5:03 pm

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