School choice vote key in Arkansas legislative scorecard



(The Center Square) – The Club for Growth Foundation’s Arkansas Legislative Scorecard for 2023 showed one stark difference between Democrats and Republicans.

The organization ranks legislators based on “economic growth” policies from 0 to 100. The Club for Growth released the report exclusively to The Center Square on Tuesday.

The average score for all Senate Republicans is 57%, up from 38% in 2019. Senate Democrats were at 2%, down from 25% in 2019. Five Democrats received a score of “0.”

House Democrat’s cumulative score is 4%, down from 25% in 2019. Multiple Democrats received a “0.” Their Republican counterparts averaged 61%, up from 47% in 2019.

“The best example of Democrats and Republicans differing on an issue that reflects lower scores for Democrats and higher scores for Republicans is SB 294 which provided universal school freedom in Arkansas through the creation of education savings accounts for every student in Arkansas,” said Club for Growth Foundation President David McIntosh in an email interview with The Center Square. “Every Democrat, in both the Arkansas House and Senate, voted against the legislation while the overwhelming majority of Republicans in both chambers voted in support of the bill.”

Other bills included in the scorecard are House Bill 1307, which empowers the state treasurer to divest the state of companies prioritizing environmental, social and government investments and Senate Bill 8, which lowered the top individual income tax rate from 4.7% to 4.4%.

“While Arkansas advanced and passed legislation on key issues such as school freedom and income tax reform, larger issues remain with overall spending in the state budget and in the appropriations process,” McIntosh said. “Rather than focusing on limiting the government’s overall involvement in the state’s economy and allowing the free market to thrive, the Arkansas State Legislature instituted State Rice Checkoff Appropriations that essentially serve as government mandated taxes on small businesses in the industry, Public Television Appropriations that props up a failing industry, a licensing scheme that imposes new, unjust fees on behavior analysts, as well as other bills that restrict the overall economic wellbeing in the state.”

Sen. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, received the highest score at 73%. Dotson received no points for his votes on a bill giving $15 million for Arkansas public television. He also supported the State Rice Checkoff appropriation.

Rep. Austin McCollum, R-Bentonville, was the highest-ranking House member, ranking at 88%. He supported a sales tax exemption for data centers and corporate tech entities, a bill that Club for Growth called “corporate welfare.”

McCollum also voted for a bill that requires state agencies to give 5% of government contracts to entities less than five years old that operate inside Arkansas, which the organization also opposed.

“This mandate creates a central planning approach that effectively curtails a merit based approach for entering into contracts with private businesses, which undermines the interests of taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill,” Club for Growth Foundation said in the scorecard.

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