Initiative 3: An Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution Concerning Job Creation, Job Expansion, and Economic Development

What will appear on the ballot?

AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO ENCOURAGE JOB CREATION, JOB EXPANSION, AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; REMOVING THE LIMITATION ON THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS THAT MAY BE ISSUED UNDER AMENDMENT 82 OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO ATTRACT LARGE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS; AUTHORIZING A CITY, COUNTY, TOWN, OR OTHER MUNICIPAL CORPORATION TO OBTAIN OR APPROPRIATE MONEY FOR ANY CORPORATION, ASSOCIATION, INSTITUTION, OR INDIVIDUAL TO FINANCE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS AND TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SERVICES; AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS UNDER AMENDMENT 62 OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS; AUTHORIZING THE TAXES THAT MAY BE PLEDGED TO RETIRE BONDS ISSUED UNDER AMENDMENT 62 OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS; REMOVING THE REQUIREMENT OF A PUBLIC SALE FOR BONDS ISSUED UNDER AMENDMENT 62 OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS; AND AUTHORIZING COMPACTS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS AMONG CITIES OF THE FIRST AND SECOND CLASS, INCORPORATED TOWNS, SCHOOL DISTRICTS, AND COUNTIES.

Full Text

What is in the initiative?

  • Allows counties, cities, towns or other municipal corporations to obtain or appropriate money for corporations, associations, institutions or individuals for the following reasons:
    • Finance economic development projects
      • Land, buildings, furnishings, equipment and facilities
      • Infrastructure
        • Land acquisitions
        • Site preparation
        • Road and highway improvements
        • Rail spur, railroad and railport construction
        • Water service
        • Wastewater treatment
        • Employee training which may include equipment for such purpose
        • Environmental mitigation or reclamation
      • Improvements that are required or suitable for the development, retention or expansion of
        • Manufacturing, production and industrial facilities
        • Research, technology and development facilities
        • Recycling facilities
        • Distribution centers
        • Call centers
        • Warehouse facilities
        • Job training facilities
        • Regional or national corporate headquarters facilities
    • Provide economic development services
      • Planning, marketing and strategic advice and counsel regarding job recruitment, job development, job retention and job expansion
      • Supervision and operation of industrial parks or other such properties
      • Negotiation of contracts for the sale or lease of industrial parks or other such properties
  • Changes wording from “industrial development purposes” to “economic development projects”, broadening the purposes these funds can be used for.
  • Allows the General Assembly or the legislative body to authorize taxes other than just property taxes to pay off the bonds used to raise these funds.
  • Removes the requirement for these bonds to be sold at public auction with 20 days notice in a newspaper with bona fide circulation in the municipality or county issuing the bonds.
  • Allocates any surplus tax collections to the general funds of the municipality or county, rather than allowing them to be used as security for the issuance of additional voter approved bonds as is currently established.
  • Removes the current cap on how much the state can raise through this process. The current cap is 5% of the state general revenue collected during the most recent fiscal year.

Support For:

  • Allows smaller governments in the state to attract economic development opportunities, instead of having to rely on the state government allocating funds for them.
  • Allows Arkansas communities to compete with others in states that allow them to do these same things.
  • Removing the cap allows Arkansas to compete for larger projects that may create more jobs.

Arguments Against:

  • This is pure cronyism, it allows local governments to give money to corporations and individuals, then stick the taxpayers with the bill in the form of additional taxes.
  • It removes the limit on the state government, allowing them to give endless money to their corporate friends and rich individuals.
  • Harms small businesses that have to pay all their own expenses, by giving their large corporate competitors free money from the government.
  • Removing the mandate for these bonds to be sold at public auction allows them to be sold privately to select corporations and individuals, for the benefit of select corporations and individuals, leaving the public’s only role as payer.
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