Governor Asa Hutchinson thinks legislators who oppose his Obamacare “Arkansas Works” program should bow to his wishes, instead of following their consciences and voting “No”, which would keep the Governor from getting the required three-fourths vote to spend money on the program. The Governor claims legislators who would block the funding are violating fundamental principles of government.
Governor Hutchinson said:
“There’s a fundamental principle of government that we need to deal with, and that is that the minority should not derail the expressed will of the majority. And, that has not happened in Arkansas’ history.”
He is wrong. He should know he is wrong. And, we think most people are glad he is wrong.
The requirement he complains about is part of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, adopted by the people, which is designed to help control spending and to make it harder for liberals to increase taxes, such as the state income tax, by requiring a higher vote on these issues!
He got it wrong
FOUNDING FATHERS: As the Governor of the state of Arkansas, a former U.S. Congressman, former federal bureaucrat, and attorney, the Governor should be well aware that our founding fathers included fundamental protections against what is called the “tyranny of the majority”. They did this by requiring more than a majority vote in a number of instances.
U.S. CONSTITUTION: The U.S. Constitution requires more than a majority vote on various issues such as: impeachment of federal officials, expelling members of congress, overriding the President’s veto, amending the Constitution, calling a Constitutional Convention, ratifying an amendment to the Constitution, ratifying a Treaty, and removal of the President. Governor Hutchinson served as the Congressional prosecutor in the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton and should know very well the two-thirds supermajority needed to impeach a President.
CONGRESS: The U.S. Congress has its own supermajority rules. Such as the rule requiring a three-fifths vote to end a filibuster. (Remember the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: starring Jimmy Stewart.)
ARKANSAS: The Arkansas Constitution and the rules of the Arkansas House of Representatives and Arkansas Senate include supermajority rules.
Arkansas’ protection against uncontrolled spending and taxation
The Governor is complaining about the requirement that spending bills must receive a three-fourths vote in each house. This fundamental protection is part of the Arkansas Constitution and was approved by the people in 1934. The requirement has deterred spending. Just because a legislator passes enabling legislation for some new program or requirement does not mean the idea got funded. State agencies know this too and sometimes protect themselves by insisting on language being added to legislation, something to the effect of “This act is contingent on an appropriation and funding being made available for that purpose.” State agencies know it is relatively easy to pass legislation but not so easy to pass legislation to spend money.
The 1934 constitutional amendment included another three-fourths vote requirement that we bet the Governor would not like to talk about. For taxes in existence in 1934, the amendment requires a three-fourths vote before there can be a tax increase.
A prime target for liberals is the three-fourths vote requirement to increase your state income tax rate. Liberals want to be able to increase the income tax with only a majority. If the Governor really believes what he said in his speech, then he would also be saying the legislature should be able to increase the Arkansas income tax by a majority vote because the 3/4ths vote requirement “derails the express will of the majority.” Would you like for it to be easier for big government bureaucrats to raise your income tax rate?
To browbeat his opponents, the Governor made an obviously incorrect statement about the fundamental principles of government. And the press let him get away with it.
In matters of money, you want not just a majority, who may be swayed by Governors, lobbyists and special interests, that is why the Arkansas Constitution requires a three-fourths vote.
Whether a legislator is conservative, lukewarm, or liberal, the one thing we are in short supply of is legislators who will vote their conscience.