Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gov. Mike Beebe Did the Right Thing

I am forced to tip my hat to our Democrat Governor Mike Beebe. John Brummett uses his column today to demonstrate why I am wrong and that Beebe does not deserve praise. But I am forced to dissent. Hopefully a hole will not form in the Arkansas blogosphere due to my defense of Beebe with Brummett’s criticism. I believe that his decision to decline his pay raise was not just a stroke of political genius but an honest move to do what he believed was the right thing.

I know there will be naysayers out there who will be quick to point out that this is small potatoes in a billion dollar state budget. They would also say that Gov. Beebe passed this bill only hours earlier and should have vetoed the pay increases and sent it back to the legislature. Or perhaps taken the pay raise and then privately given this to charity, as Bill Halter claims is his plan.

Maybe they are right and I need a dunce cap but here is the background on Beebe’s decision. On Friday morning several blogs, including this one, began to question why our state executives were taking a 3.8% pay increase when many Arkansans were being laid off or having to get by with less. The hits to my blog saw a noticeable spike in traffic. In addition, at least one mainstream media website picked up on the story and saw a noticeable increase in their traffic as well. Why? This story struck a cord with everyday Arkansans who understood that this simply did not seem right.
The governor could have easily blown this off. After all, my blog attacks his policy decisions several times a week. That is nothing new. But on this one, he did not do that. I think the reason was not “for show, for political safety, a hollow grandstanding gesture,” but rather because he took a look at it and said "You know they have a point. I should not be taking a raise right now."
Tomorrow (or maybe even later today) I will go back to the battle. I have many disagreements with Gov. Beebe on policy issues. I think we need to be focused on cutting taxes (such as a complete elimination of the state grocery tax) instead of raising taxes and increasing the size of state government (as the tobacco tax proposes to do.) But on this one issue, let this right wing “lonely, misfit” with a keyboard say, Good job, Governor Beebe!

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