Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

EDITORIAL>> Glover again comes to school's rescue

Tax-increment financing, which in the Kingís English means stealing from school children, looked like it was dead a few weeks ago when Attorney General Mike Beebe spelled out clearly what it meant.

Now it has new life in the final days of the General Assembly. Schools and libraries will not be safe from it until the legislature adjourns sine die.

TIF, as the tax gimmick is called, allows local governments to create special development districts to aid private developers who want to build shopping malls or other private developments but want the taxpayers to help foot the bill.

A portion of the property taxes that were voted for schools, libraries or other government entities would be siphoned off for 20 or 30 years to pay for improvements that would benefit the private developer.

Many such districts were underway in prosperous parts of the state until the attorney general said that the money would be drained not just from the local school districts where the developments would occur but from every school and every school child in Arkansas.

But development interests came up with a bill that would exempt some entities from the tax loss, thus diluting the opposition.

Community-college districts, po-lice and firemenís pension funds and county hospitals would not have any of their taxes transferred to the development under the bill. Schools and libraries, of course, still would bear the burden.

Monday, the bill failed to get out of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on a 3-3 vote. Rep. Bobby Glover of Carlisle voted against referring the bill to the Senate and thus kept it tied up.

He deserves the thanks of every school patron in the state.

But the session isnít over, the bill isnít dead, and Glover will face pressure to vote the bill out so that the financial interests can work their magic on the Senate floor.

Let us hope that he continues to see his solemn duty to protect the children of our community and the state.