‘Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
— 1 Timothy 4:15
Unless you are a Democrat, progressive isn’t a word that you probably like to hear. (And if you are a centrist Democrat, you likely feel the same way.)
Based on national elections, it is fairly safe to say that the majority of voters in White County would consider themselves to be at least moderately conservative, if not firmly Republican. In fact, those elections show the county to be one of the more conservative areas of the state.
So it’s possible that you cringed a little when Searcy Mayor Kyle Osborne used the word “progressive” in discussing why he is happy about the permanent one-cent sales tax passing. Some City Council members also have previously said it: They want Searcy to be progressive.
It certainly may not be the word you would use, especially considering progressive Democrats have pushed for Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” bill that was whittled down some to try to sway a couple of moderate Democrats in the evenly divided Senate. However, the only similarity might be that Searcy officials and those progressives see tax as the way to accomplish their goals.
Frankly, that’s understandable because if you are going to progress, it takes money, and taxes are generally the way governments get money. But desiring more money to be progressive does not necessarily make you a progressive.
We may not know exactly where every Searcy official stands on the political scale since they run for office as independents, but there don’t seem to be any indications by their actions thus far that when they use the word progressive, they are talking about social spending. They appear to be simply talking about moving Searcy forward, which was the name of the community group that worked to get the tax passed.
They want to see better, more competitive pay for city workers, according to the goals they’ve laid out for the tax. They want to see police cars and sanitation vehicles regularly replaced. They want to see economic development efforts to bring industry and more jobs to the city. They want to see drainage work, bridges replaced and streets widened.
They may not be as conservative as some of us when it comes to change and taxes (maybe not even close), but wanting progress should not be seen as inherently bad because we do not agree with the liberal agenda of progressives. Some growth and change is absolutely necessary.
How much is what we’ll see now that the 1-percent is a forever tax. The tax is in the hands of those who say they want to be progressive, so we’ll find out how progressive they actually want to be.
It’s probable that it won’t be that different than what we’ve seen with the eight-year tax, which has accomplished some much-needed changes for the city, although the city also has an advertising and promotions tax to work with now.
How that A&P tax was passed was a little too progressive for my taste, but that no longer matters. The only thing that matters now is how city officials use the money.
If they are too progressive, then it won’t be very long before voters can show them how they feel about that. If they mean progressive the way I think they mean progressive, though, then I believe most Searcy residents will be happy with the results.
Although some of us may not be too comfortable with the word, maybe Searcy officials will show us that progressive is not all that bad after all.