The Arkansas Democratic Party held their Convention this past weekend. I listened to the candidates speeches for any hint of a transit/transportation platform. There were some statements about developing infrastructure but nothing specific. In their defense some other issues have cropped up in the past few months. Issues that have the many voters up in arms. And people registering to vote who admit they haven’t voted in many years.
Whatever it takes.
On the local level, the Washington County Quorum Court has a super majority of Republican JP’s. In taped meetings I have seen the Executive Director of ORTA come to the court and ask for money to expand and operate services. I have seen the Republicans vote him down. Every time. And one of them made some jokes about poor people taking Uber. We at ORBTS won’t tell you how to vote but we do give you the facts so you can make informed decisions.
I do know of one candidate for JP who has a plan for building up mass transit should they get elected. When I have their permission I will share their platform with you. We are entering a time when I will be asking all candidates in all races of all parties about their platform. I will report to you whatever I find out. And if candidates don’t respond, I will report that too.
Another thing you need to know about WCQC is that the Republican JP’s voted to put a quarter cent sales tax on the ballot this fall. The money will go to county jail expansion. The reason jail population is going up is beyond our scope here. But on a policy issue like this, I recommend a NO vote on the quarter cent sales tax. If we get a WCQC that will ask for a quarter cent for mass transit, I will recommend a hearty YES vote. But we have to change the County Court before we get to more money for public transportation.
I keep waiting to find out if there will be a sales tax, quarter cent, for transit among the 4 Cities. This money could multiply ORTA’s budget many times. I think they have a budget of less than $3 million. The 4 Cities sales tax could put it over $15 million. And that is a big YES vote from us. When I hear more, I will tell you. And if you hear DM me and let me know.
On the state level the Arkansas Legislature just met. Citizens ask me how we will pay for all the new rails, roads, and equipment for green mass transit. For one thing we have a $1.6 billion budget surplus. Or we did. The Arkansas Legislature just passed a big tax cut for the wealthiest in Arkansas. This tax cut impacts only a few citizens. No tax cuts for most of us. No teacher raises. No money for transportation. The tax cuts are financed with half of the surplus. Once again, not telling you how to vote but if passenger rail and green mass transit are important to you, you know what to do.
On the Federal level all six of Arkansas Congressional Delegation voted against The Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act. Against Build Back Better which included more money for high speed rail and building green energy systems. And against The Inflation Reduction Act which does include money for green energy and a lot more that we here at ORBTS want to see.
While six of the Congressional Delegation must go, and we can vote 5 of them out this year. It is especially necessary to vote Ricky Crawford out of office. He represents AR CD 1. He uses his position in the House Transportation Committee to try to pass bills that eliminate passenger from the USA. He is that extreme. And he is also a traitor. He supported and continues to support the January 6 insurrection. He has got to go.
His opponent is Monte Hodges. Mr. Hodges is currently a state representative. He worked to bring steel plants to eastern Arkansas. And now Arkansas is the top steel producing state in the USA. Monte Hodges knows how to get things done. I have spoken to him, and he is very favorable to green mass transit and passenger rail. If you have to pick one candidate to support take a good look at Monte Hodges.
I hope you can find time to support more than one candidate. Public engagment is very important to our cause. Please talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about the opportunities we have to build a green future for Arkansas. Volunteer, give, and help us get out the vote. Everything is riding on transportation this fall.
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