Efficiency Project Identifies 184 Initiatives At State Departments
(November 2016) The Policy Foundation's Efficiency Project has identified 184 cost-saving initiatives underway at Arkansas state departments. The initiatives are listed in a report that has been delivered to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The dollar amount range from department-identified efficiencies is $7.3-to-$13.5 million. The Efficiency Project makes 60 policy recommendations that will save Arkansas taxpayers more than $50 million. The bulk of these savings are at the departments of Finance and Administration ($15.5 million) and Education ($27.5 million).
Fifteen Private Schools Approved for Succeed Scholarship Program
(August 2016) Fifteen Arkansas private schools have received approval from the state Department of Education (ADE) to participate in the Succeed Scholarship Program, Arkansas' first non-public school choice program. According to the Little Rock-based Reform Alliance, the program "is open to any Private School Applicants that are accredited."
(August 2016) The Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, has issued its annual 'Freedom in the 50 States' report.
The report's fiscal and education recommendations include the following ideas:
Fiscal: Cut the state sales and use tax, which is high. Let local governments vary property taxes to meet local needs and desires, reducing state aid for education and other purposes.
Personal: Enact a generous tax credit for contributions to private scholarships for K–12 education.
The Cato report is available at: http://www.freedominthe50states.org/overall/arkansas
School Choice Explained
(July 2016) The Policy Foundation will hold an event in late July explaining school choice programs. Arkansas became the 25th state to enact a school choice program in 2015. The idea originated with Dr. Milton Friedman (1912-2006), the 1976 Nobel Economics Laureate. Dr. Friedman was born July 31, 1912, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
(June 2016) School choice gives students the freedom to attend schools or obtain educational services that best fit their individual and family needs. These can include public, private or home-schools depending on the circumstance. School choice has advanced to a significant degree since the Policy Foundation raised the issue in 1995. The citizenship of Arkansans has advanced school choice, with foundations playing a key leadership role.
(June 2016) Records show the Arkansas school choice market continues to expand, growing expanded from an estimated 66,627 K-12 students in 2013 to 70,533 in 2015. The niche market includes students participating in public school choice programs, and homeschooled, private and charter students.
(May 2016) Total operating expenditures at four Arkansas state departments have increased at average annual rates greater than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since the last recession ended in mid-2009. These actual agency expenditures increased at annual rates ranging from 3.8% (Community Corrections) to 1.9% (Education Department, Public School Fund) versus 1.5% inflation (CPI)
Arkansas State Spending How To Save More Than $150 Million
(April 2016) The Policy Foundation noted more than a decade ago that state spending growth linked to an economic metric such as the Consumer Price Index would save tax dollars. CPI has increased at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent in the economic expansion that started in 2009. Yet spending increases at higher percentage rates at five departments in pending Fiscal Session Budget Requests when 2015-16 (Budget) is compared to 2016-17 (Legislative Recommendation). These departments are Community Corrections, Corrections, Education, Health, and Human Services.
(February 2016) School choice and charter schools have advanced since the Little Rock School District was taken over by the state one year ago. The Succeed Scholarship Program, Arkansas' first school choice law was enacted by the state legislature but awaits funding. The E-STEM and Lisa Academy charter systems are also proposing to expand in Little Rock.
Governor Hutchinson Memorandum State Government Efficiency Project
(January 2016) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued the following memorandum December 17 to directors of state agencies, offices, and departments. The memorandum discusses the Policy Foundation's Efficiency Review of state government, announced the same day
(December 2015) Arkansas has an estimated 350 boards and commissions, along with committees (110), councils (39), departments (60), and task forces (42) bringing the total to more than 500 separate state government entities, according to records. A preliminary review found overlapping state entities in the following five public policy areas:
Gov. Asa Hutchinson to Keynote Policy Foundation 20th Anniversary Event
(November 2015) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will keynote the Policy Foundation's 20th anniversary Recognition Reception on Thursday, Dec. 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Little Rock Club on the 30th Floor of the Regions Center (400 West Capitol Avenue).
State Government Reorganization Boards and Commissions
(October 2015) Boards and Commissions have been described as "low-hanging fruit" in terms of state government reorganization. A state website lists 119 separate entities that include the words "board" or "commission," though the number could be greater. A U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year has caused analysts to question whether some boards and commissions interfere with the workings of a market-based economic system.
(October 2015) The Policy Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a market-based think tank this year. The Foundation, as part of the celebration, is hosting a Sound Money Conference to examine monetary policy in the 21st Century. The event is tailored to students and teachers, though everyone with an interest in monetary policy is welcome to attend.
(September 2015) The top U.S. individual federal income tax rate has declined from 94% to 39.6% in the postwar era. Reduction of the top rate, including the cut from 70% to 28% that occurred in the 1980s was based on the idea tax rates influence economic decisions. Arkansas has also cut income tax rates since 2013, though the top rate remains at 7%.
(August 2015) Arkansas' first private school choice measure, a voucher program, was enacted earlier this year. The development has generated interest in school choice programs offered in other states. One example are tax credit scholarships. The Friedman Foundation reports the following states offer tax credit scholarships.
Policy Foundation To Host 20th Anniversary Banquet
(June 2015) Twenty years ago a small group of business owners and investors concerned about Arkansas' economic future organized the Policy Foundation as a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit think tank.
(June 2015) Six years after the Great Recession ended, Arkansas payroll employment growth trails the national average, 8.2 to 4.2 percent, a Policy Foundation analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics records show.
(May 2015) Setting the record straight against Arkansas capital gains tax proponents is a full time job. The myth that only a handful of wealthy entrepreneurs pay capital gains taxes is rebutted by state Department of Finance and Administration records that show more than 115,000 Arkansans pay the levy. The myth that capital gains taxes do not effect economic growth is rebutted by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data that show states without these levies have higher job creation rates as a group. Another myth is that phase-out of the capital gains tax is a partisan issue in Arkansas. Public records say otherwise.
(April 2015) Critics of capital gains and income tax cuts used fallacious reasoning in numerous failed attempts to defeat tax cuts in 2013 and 2015. One logical fallacy, the ad hominem argument, was trotted out to attack Arkansas entrepreneurs and argue only the wealthy pay capital gains taxes. Another fallacy, the argumentum ad lapidem, consists of dismissing tax cut proponents' claims without examining their content. This is not 'A is A' reasoning. These claims must be rebutted for Arkansas to build on the tax cuts enacted in 2013-15 and move forward.
(March 2015) The Policy Foundation, since its founding 20 years ago, has advanced the idea that private school choice would benefit at-risk Arkansas students by introducing competition to the state's K-12 public school system.
Convert Failing Schools to Charters, Advance School Choice
(February 2015) Failing Arkansas charter schools are closed. Six failing Little Rock public schools in academic distress remain open. They should be converted into charters starting with the 2015-16 school year. Little Rock students should also have the freedom to attend independent schools with tax credits or vouchers, education reforms adopted in 23 other states.
Defenders of the educational status quo attack charter conversions after takeovers. But a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper, "Testing School Takeovers in New Orleans and Boston," found that pupils who remain enrolled in a school that is converted from public to charter showed "substantial gains in both cities."
Sixty Percent of Students at Distressed Little Rock High Schools Less Than Proficient
(February 2015) Sixty percent of students at three Little Rock high schools in academic distress are less than proficient in the category of literacy, according to results reported by the state Department of Education.
Documents: Outstanding Tax Liens Total $735 Million
(January 26, 2015) Documents obtained by the Policy Foundation from the state Department of Finance and Administration show total outstanding tax liens number 178,612 and total $735,470,927, while policymakers raise taxes and fail to fully reimburse counties for housing state inmates in county jails.
Arkansas' Non-Competitive Corporate Income Tax Rate
(January 2015) Fiscal action taken by the 90th General Assembly has focused on income and capital gains tax rates, while ignoring Arkansas' non-competitive top corporate tax rate, among the highest in the region.
The Arkansas Policy Foundation is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that analyzes the impact of public policy on Arkansas and makes recommendations.
The Foundation emphasizes the importance of tax policy and education reform.
Principles of tax policy: Arkansas would benefit from comprehensive, pro-growth reform; Arkansans are not under-taxed; taxes and rates do matter to entrepreneurs; dynamic scoring of tax changes and effects provides benefits.
Education reform: The Foundation seeks intellectual honesty and complete openness in reporting the lack of academic progress in Arkansas' school system.