The Democratic Party was quick to hit Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson for not cheering the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce party line at a joint Fort Smith appearance before chamberites today with Democrat Mike Ross 

Said a party spokesman:


Today, Congressman Hutchinson spoke at the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast. Two things he didn’t mention: the Quick Action Closing Fund and Mike Ross’ plan to eliminate the manufacturing sales tax. Congressman Hutchinson opposes both of these top Arkansas Chamber of Commerce priorities.

“The Quick Action Closing Fund has created thousands of jobs in Arkansas and nearly 800 in the Fort Smith area,” said Patrick Burgwinkle, Democratic Party of Arkansas spokesperson. “Eliminating the manufacturing sales tax is a common sense way to help Arkansas manufacturers grow, expand and hire more workers. Congressman Hutchinson’s opposition to two key priorities for Arkansas’s business community is more evidence that he is totally disconnected from Arkansas.”

Congressman Hutchinson opposed the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund and called it a “slush fund” and “a kitty.” The Quick Action Closing Fund has helped create and save thousands of jobs in Arkansas and nearly 800 in Fort Smith alone. Congressman Hutchinson also opposes Mike Ross’ plan to eliminate the manufacturing sales tax, a top priority for the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce that will help bring manufacturing jobs back to Arkansas.

I happen to appreciate Hutchinson’s reluctance to cheer these ideas. I’m surprised we have any taxes left on manufacturers, so willing has the legislature been historically to aid business but not the working stiff who needs a new hammer and pair of jeans for his construction job.

The quick action closing fund? It IS a slush fund, a powerful sum to put in the hands of one person. I’m gathering information right now on a beneficiary of this taxpayer handout — an enterprise with little to show yet  except a feuding bunch of insiders, some curious related transactions and questions state officials have so far refused to answer.


The value of these handouts is an article of faith to the business community. The business community gives money to political campaigns. The business support of Mike Beebe in a previous race against Asa Hutchinson undoubtedly encourages Mike Ross in that direction. But is it an issue that moves voters. I’m skeptical. This is a race where both candidates have long been stuck just about where they started in the polls, but Asa is stuck ahead of Ross. Corporate welfare doesn’t look like a needle mover to me, but I am prejudiced on the subject.

UPDATE: Ryan Saylor of The City Wire has a report on the candidates pitches to be good for business. Asa, with his NRA cred, says he’s going to lure a bunch of gunmakers here from anti-gun states. Ross said he’s good with the NRA, too, but talked in better terms about how good education is a better lure for business than anything. Including, I’d add, gun demagoguery. Ross also said he’d cut taxes, but not in one fell swoop as Sam Brownback did to disastrous results in Kansas.