Arkansans Prepare to Vote on Amendment Two

November 1, 2004 – Posted at 4:48 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Arkansas voters are deciding on three Constitutional Amendment issues when they go to the polls on Super Tuesday, and one of them is Amendment Two. If approved, it would allow the legislature to authorize revenue bonds to help attract industry to the state. But supporters of the measure fear that many voters do not understand the measure and will vote no.

"It puts us in a position to be competitive and levels the playing field with other southern states," said Henry Jones of the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters of the Amendment say while it's not a tax increase, it could increase jobs for the state. If approved, it would allow the legislature to issue general obligation bonds to attract economic development projects, "Super Projects," such as automotive assembly plants.

"At the very beginning would be that they have to employ at least 500 people and it would be a $500 million dollar project," said Jones.

To put it in perspective, the Jonesboro Nestle plant was a $200 million dollar project; the closest thing Region 8 has seen to a super project. Amendment 2 would allow state lawmakers to attract big companies without ever putting it to a vote, something that could have a big impact on the Region 8 economy.

"We face this every day with people finishing high school and college and going someplace out of state because we can't produce enough jobs," said Jones.

But it's up to voters to decide if this Amendment is right for the state.

"In the event that it isn't, we don't move forward in our ability to compete with other states," said Jones.