September net revenues climbed higher for the state thanks to strong individual income tax collections, while sales and use taxes struggled for the second consecutive month. Corporate income taxes were also lower.
September was expected to see a boost in sales tax collections as the month’s report would reflect the state’s new back-to-school sales tax holiday activity. For the month, September sales and use tax collections totaled $177.8 million, a decrease of $1.2 million or 0.7 percent from last year. Collections were below monthly forecast levels by $7.2 million or 3.9 percent.
Metro jobless rates decline across state
August jobless rates in Arkansas’ major metropolitan areas declined from the previous month and in year-over-year comparisons.
According to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate declines in August compared to July, and were all down compared to August 2011.
During August, the lowest metro jobless rate was in Northwest Arkansas with 5.3 percent and the highest rate was 8.9 percent in the Memphis/West Memphis metro.
Arkansas Supreme Court disqualifies casino measure
The Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified a proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino operations throughout the state — a measure being guided by professional poker player Nancy Todd. The proposal would have allowed casinos in Crittenden, Franklin, Miller and Pulaski counties.
The state’s high court determined that Todd’s change to the ballot title after signatures were gathered was improper. "Although this case raises at least four separate issues, the primary question presented is whether a sponsor of an initiated amendment may attach one ballot title to her petition and then ask respondent to certify another. We hold that she may not," wrote Justice Jim Gunter in the unanimous majority opinion.
Animal rights activist seeks seat on Tyson Foods board
The head of the U.S. Humane Society, CEO Wayne Pacelle, said he has filed paperwork to stand as a candidate for election to the Tyson Foods board of directors. The Humane Society has been a frequent critic of Tyson’s business practices and treatment of animals.
"It’s certainly unusual for a lifelong animal advocate to run for the board of the second-largest meat company in the world," Pacelle said in a news release. "Nonetheless, it is imperative that a voice on Tyson’s board speak for the company’s many customers, partners and investors who are demanding the end of gestation crates and more humane treatment of animals."
Bank of the Ozarks acquires Alabama bank
Bank of the Ozarks will acquire Genala Banc of Alabama for $27.3 million, the two banks announced on Thursday. According to the terms of the agreement, Bank of the Ozarks will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Genala Banc. The transaction is expected to close in late December 2012 or during the first quarter of 2013.
Genala is the holding company for The Citizens Bank, which operates one banking office in Geneva, Alabama. As of June 30, 2012, The Citizens Bank had approximately $170 million of total assets, $45 million of loans and $142 million of deposits. The Citizens Bank opened in Geneva in 1901.
LM Wind Power to expand in Brazil
Danish wind turbine blade manufacturer, LM Wind Power, announced on Tuesday that it will construct a new factory in Brazil and hire 300 workers initially. The factory will be established in conjunction with LM Wind Power’s joint venture partner Eólice and will deliver blades to wind farms in Brazil and throughout South America. The plant is expected to open in September 2013. LM Wind Power has a major operation in Little Rock, which has ramped up and scaled back production since opening in 2008.
Arkansas gets ‘C’ grade for online transparency
Arkansas received an overall grade of "C" for its online transparency, according to a nonprofit group that studies the issue. In a report released Wednesday, Alexandria, Va.-based Sunshine Review gave Arkansas an overall grade of C. Broken down by category, it gave the state government a B, counties a D-minus, cities a C and school districts a C.
The report was released about three months after the debut of the state’s online checkbook, a searchable website documenting state expenditures. Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (R), who led the push for the website, noted that earlier this year, before the online checkbook launched, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group gave Arkansas an F for online transparency.
Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org; his Web site address is www.talkbusiness.net.