On January 14, Frank Pastore wrote an open letter to Gov. Mike Huckabee entitled Dear Huck: You’ve Won Our Hearts, Now Win Our Minds Too. Governor Huckabee wrote an outstanding response. On taxes:
When I was Governor of Arkansas, I cut taxes 94 times, including the largest broad-based tax cut in the history of my state. I doubled the standard deduction and the child care credit, eliminated the marriage penalty, indexed tax brackets to prevent bracket creep, reduced the capital gains tax for both businesses and individuals, and eliminated the capital gains tax on the sale of a home. I reduced welfare rolls by almost 50 percent.
When I left office, the tax rates remained exactly the same as when I began almost 11 years earlier: the tax rate was 1 percent for the poorest taxpayers and 7 percent for the richest. Having inherited a $200 million budget shortfall from my Democrat predecessor, I left office with an $844 million surplus, letting my successor follow my lead to get the sales tax on food eliminated.
My overriding concern is that every child in America has the opportunity to get a first-rate education—I am much less concerned with the means than with the end. I support school choice, vouchers and charter schools because different options work better in different settings. For example, vouchers may not work well in a rural area where there are no better alternatives within a reasonable distance for children to travel, but they may be the answer in an urban environment. If local districts wish to do it, if states wish to do it, I think that’s fine. It goes to the basic concept that education is a state’s decision.
I also think that we ought to have tax credits for a family whose decision is to put their children in an alternative environment. That’s one way to empower families.
On illegal immigration:
Pastore: “Your position on illegal immigration is confusing. On the one hand, you’ve got the strongest immigration platform of all the candidates and you want to pardon border agents Ramos and Compean as your first presidential act. We all love this. But, on the other hand, you gave children of illegals in-state tuition breaks in Arkansas. Please explain this apparent inconsistency.”
Huckabee: There isn’t an inconsistency—it’s a matter of which desk you sit behind. As governor, I had no control over immigration, which is a federal issue. I had no control over our borders or who came into my state. So I tried to improve something I did have control over–turning my state’s tax-takers into taxpayers. I proposed giving children who had gone through our schools and done very well academically, who were alcohol and drug-free, and who were applying for citizenship, the opportunity to compete for a very select academically-based scholarship along with their peers. I didn’t believe then, and I don’t believe now, that innocent children should be punished for the sins of their parents. There was no limit on the number of scholarships—everyone who qualified got one, so they wouldn’t have been taking scholarships away from another Arkansas resident. My plan was not adopted; no child ever received one of these scholarships. And contrary to distortions promoted by my political opponents, no children of illegals ever got in-state tuition breaks.
Read the whole thing.