Academic journal article Policy Review

State Think Tanks Take Aim

Academic journal article Policy Review

State Think Tanks Take Aim

Article excerpt

Little Rock, Arkansas--Higher taxes may be popular in Bill Clinton's White House, but back where Clinton comes from, they're about as welcome as subpoenas at the Rose Law Firm.

By a whopping tally of 87 percent, Arkansas voters last January rejected Governor Jim Guy Tucker's plan for a huge increase in state spending for highways. Tucker sought approval to issue $3.5 billion in bonds, to be repaid by hikes in the state's general sales tax and diesel- fuel tax, and by a new excise tax on wholesale gasoline. Thanks to voters, Arkansas motorists avoided having to pay the highest diesel-fuel and gasoline taxes in the South.

Tucker had barnstormed the state, attempting to convince voters that the additional state debt and higher taxes would yield better roads and a stronger economy. Opponents argued that the excessive growth of state spending over the years had crowded out funding for the roads, and therefore Little Rock should tighten its belt and finance highways by cutting general spending.

Proving that good research and persuasive ideas can move public opinion, the Arkansas Policy Foundation (APF) joined the fray and played a key role in the Tucker proposal's lopsided defeat. …

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