The state of Arkansas' distinct political environment requires a well planned policy initiative in order to drastically change policy, such as to increase the state's income tax. With a number of costly initiatives currently being implemented, particularly in infrastructure and education, an argument could be made that a reasonable income tax hike would be necessary. This hike could be made relatively easily if presented effectively to the state's legislature and executive branch, since both are controlled by democrats. These income tax increases could be treated and presented as investments in the state's education system as well as in its infrastructure.
With a very competitive and relatively balanced political climate, the state of Arkansas stands out in a region of the United States that is typically dominated by conservatives.
[...] The Governor of Arkansas is historically a valuable post and a political stepping stone towards national politics. Currently, the office is held by a Democrat, Mike Beebe. (Arkansas.gov 2008) The governor serves are the chief executive and commanding officer of the states' military. The governor of Arkansas must be thirty years of age, and have resided in the state for at least seven years. The term for a Governor of Arkansas is four years, with a term limit of two terms. [...]
[...] (NationMaster 2004) Currently, the Arkansas Senate is dominated by Democrats, who hold twenty-seven out of thirty-five seats. Republicans only control eight seats, and have very little clout in the senate. The President of the Senate is Bill Halter, a Democrat. The Senate Majority leader of the state is Tracy Steele, also a democrat. Both senate leaders assumed their posts in 2007. (NationMaster 2004) The fact that there is such an overwhelming democratic presence would make it relatively easy to push this legislation through the senate. [...]
[...] (NationMaster 2004) The office of the Lieutenant Governor of the state is independently elected, and is in line to take over in place of the Governor in the event of death, disability, or any other extenuating circumstances as outlined in the state's constitution. (NationMaster 2004) The current Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, is the first Democrat governor of Arkansas since 1996. Beebe's policies have included middle- class tax cuts, as well as a balanced budget. His biggest focus however, has been on education reform, as he has pumped $19 million per year on increasing the quality of teachers in the state and for funding special needs education. [...]
[...] According to the Arkansas News Bureau, as the president-elect has unveiled his infrastructure stimulus plan, both parties in the state's legislature have begun to make political alignments with the ruling democrats in order to gain funding and bring what it considers crucial, well-paying jobs to the state. (Associated Press 2008) This movement in the Arkansas state government is a clear reflection of the demand by its electorate to add well paying jobs to its struggling job market. These low levels of income and high levels of poverty surely play a major role in the political culture of Arkansas, and it is very easy to attribute the states lackluster economy to a lack of education and poor infrastructure in the state. [...]
[...] (NationMaster 2004) These positions are served on a part-time basis, with most members assuming full time jobs while the legislature is not in session. While parties are competitive in Arkansas' state politics, individuals are not as much so, which would make it easier to have them pass legislation that other states' legislators would be reluctant to pass due to political interests. (NationMaster 2004) The Arkansas Senate's thirty-five members are elected by individual districts, each containing approximately 76,000 people according to the 2000 U.S. Census. [...]
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