Friday, July 10, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Save Ward library

Ward could lose its little library at the end of the year if the city does not come up with funds for a librarian. The Lonoke-Prairie County Regional System has lost $35,000 in funding after the state legislature cut $1 million in aid to Arkansas libraries.

Area legislators could step forward with a local improvement grant to save the library, or the Ward City Council could cover the shortfall in next year’s budget. Ward is paying for utilities and providing a building for the library, but it will have to do more to keep its library open.

Cabot and many other cities fund their libraries with sales taxes and dedicated millage rates. Cabot’s new library is being paid for with a bond issue that’s funded with a sales tax.

Ward residents should pressure local officials to keep their library open. Once it closes, it may never reopen.

It’s a shame the state has cut funding for libraries after decades of generous support. Your local legislators probably don’t want you to know they balanced the budget on the backs of ordinary people, especially children and seniors. The legislature is cutting funds for prisons and highways and other important programs after the state committed $100 million to Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, which wants to build military vehicles in Camden. If Lockheed Martin gets the contract, Arkansas taxpayers will provide $600 in subsidies for every vehicle built there. Lockheed Martin has annual revenues of $45 billion a year, 85 percent of it generated by military contracts.

Lockheed Martin doesn’t need Arkansas’ subsidies. Their officials have admitted as much: The military vehicles would have been built in Camden even without subsidies.

If those vehicles roll off the assembly line for the next 20 years, they should have a tag that says “Built with $20 million in cuts to Arkansas libraries.”