Well, the high Sheriff of Poinsett County is at it again. He nagged the voters from the minute he took office to raise the sales tax to pay for improvements to the jail until he got it this year. Now he's gone to the Quorum Court to ask for money to hire two new people and buy a new vehicle. He's supposed to be a Republican, but he acts like the stereotypical "Tax and Spend" Democrat that Republicans claim that they are.
The Sheriff may in fact need more people and another vehicle, but improving the jail? That goes against every rule in the Republican guide book. This is the party that glorifies an Arizona Sheriff who dresses inmates in pink jumpsuits, and houses them in tents in the desert. This is the party that takes children away from parents at the border, and puts them in cages. Improve the jail? The Republicans are liable to kick him out of the party.
Now that we are almost 10 years into the Republican takeover in Arkansas, maybe it's time to see if we are any better off. The honest answer is that things haven't really changed much at all. Every Governor since Faubus, with the exception of Frank White, has governed as a moderate. Rockefeller tried to start the trend, but he was blocked by the Democratic Legislature. Bumpers reorganized state government, and passed two reforms that Rockefeller had attempted--free high school textbooks and statewide kindergarten. Clinton reformed education. Huckabee gave us AR Kids First, and made it easier to renew car licenses. Beebe got the sales tax removed from groceries, and got the public option health plan passed. Hutchinson has saved the public health option several times, reorganized government, and cut income taxes. Democratic Governors haven't been as liberal as national ones, and Republican Governors haven't been as conservative as their national party.
As far as the Legislature goes, it hasn't changed much either. It has always been more conservative than the Governors I just wrote about, and it always manages to have a few oddballs in it. In the 70's a Democrat tried to create a special tax for couples living together without being married. Republican Jason Rapert has achieved his goal in life by getting a monument to the Ten Commandments erected on the Capitol lawn.
Republican legislators have proven to be just as willing to take cash under the table as anyone else. Between nursing home owners and a private college in the mountains, several legislators have been either accused or convicted of taking bribes. Another one hasn't paid income taxes in years. Former Sen. Bookout of Jonesboro was convicted of spending campaign donations on personal items.
So far our Governors have been able to protect us from the crazy ideas and outright thievery of the Legislature, but that may be coming to an end soon. Arkansas is a Republican state, so the two leading contenders to be the next Governor are Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. If either of those two is our next Governor, there will be no adult supervision in Little Rock.
Our one hope if either Rutledge or Sanders is the Republican nominee for Governor, is that Republicans will act like state Democrats back in 1966. In that election enough Democrats were disgusted with Faubus, and his minions, that they helped Republicans elect Winthrop Rockefeller as Governor.