What is Amendment 2?

July 30, 2004 -- Posted at 3:31 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- The November ballot will have more than just choosing a president on it. For folks in Arkansas, many will be voting on Amendment 2.  But what exactly is it and how could it affect Region 8?

Chamber of Commerce Chair John Freeman said, "It's a win-win for Arkansas because there are plenty of safeguards in place to protect us and it can only be used for the very large projects."

It's an issue that many people don't know much about -- Amendment 2.  The proposed Amendment would allow lawmakers to use state money to attract big companies without ever putting it to a vote. They'd be able to bring in big corporations just like this Nestle plant, right here in Jonesboro.

"When you're dealing with one of these industries you have to be able to give them quick responses.  We'll be able to say a lot quicker that we can offer these benefits to new industry without having to go a full vote to the general public," said Freeman.

But there are some stipulations regarding the legislation.

"The company that would be coming in would have to invest five hundred million dollars before they could even qualify for this bond issue and they have to create five hundred new jobs or they can't even qualify and it has to be approved of by the state legislature because it's such a massive thing. But it's not a new tax and that's the thing we want to stress to people, is that it is not a new tax, it is a bond issue," said Kevin Hoke of the Farmer's Bureau. 

"All we're doing is empowering our legislature to make the decision for us," said Freeman.

But the Amendment is not to be confused with a tax increase.

"Nobody wants to raise taxes and this is one issue where we could bring in more tax revenue because if they employ five hundred people and you get sales tax on that or you payroll taxes or whatever that helps everybody in the state," said Hoke.

Freeman said, "The true benefit for Arkansas, and especially for Northeast Arkansas would be working with mega projects of industry coming to Arkansas," said Freeman.

The issue will be ultimately decided on the November ballot.