Special session set by Gov. Hutchinson for December 7

Politics

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson said he will call for a special session to being on December 7.

There are several items that will be on the call but the biggest issue lawmakers will discuss is cuts to the state’s income taxes.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families sent out a joint statement with 15 other organizations saying they would rather not see those tax cuts happen.

“Our big problem with this tax cut, in particular, is that so many of the benefits skew towards wealthier Arkansans,” Bruno Showers with AACF said.

State Senator Ben Gilmore said different tax brackets and tables have been addressed individually in the past and these cuts are across the board and more balanced in the approach.

“A lot of fairness in this proposal and at the end of the day I think what you’re going to see is more money in the economy, more businesses having money to grow jobs,” Gilmore said.

Showers believes more social programs and state-funded programs should be the benefactors of the estimated $500 million in cuts instead.  He said things like Universal Pre-K, funding more DHS caseworkers, other healthcare and Medicaid-related expenditures would impact Arkansans greater.

“We think these are all problems that we can address if we use that revenue to invest in public services and programs rather than a tax cut that mainly benefits the wealthy,” Showers said.

State Representative Howard Beaty is on the House Tax and Revenue Committee and he said giving taxpayer dollars back to the taxpayers is the best way to go.

“I’m going to say 99% of Arkansans are going to want that money in their pocket,” Beaty said.

Governor Hutchinson said he believes the proposed income tax cuts will allow Arkansas to be more competitive in the region against states like Texas and Florida, which don’t have a state income tax.

“When you talk about job creation, capital formation in the state, keeping our talent in this state, that benefits everyone as well,” Hutchinson said.

But Showers does not believe all the money saved in the top brackets and cuts in the corporate tax will be reinvested back into Arkansas.

“It won’t exactly go back into the state economy in the same way,” Showers explained.

Other items Hutchinson said he was going to add to the call are:

  • Restricted Reserve transfer: currently there is $31.68 million in reclaim money in the General Reserve Allotment account.  Without legislative action that money would go into the Long Term Reserve.  The intent is to move $14 million to the 3/5 majority Restricted Reserve and the rest into the 50% Restricted Reserve Account.
  • Tax Appeals Commission: Act 586 of 2021 created the Independent Tax Appeal Commission and language regarding candidates for the commission must comply with language set for earlier in the Act.
  • Insulin Bill: Act 1104 of 2021 changed laws related to insulin rebates.  It has been determined since the passage a large financial impact on EBD and other insurance plans has occurred and the bill needs to be repealed.
  • LLC Bill: Act 1041 of the 2021 Session was passed relating to Limited Liability Corporations. There was a drafting issue which caused Arkansas to not have an active LLC law from July 28, 2021 – September 1, 2021. A bill must be passed to rectify this. 
  • Appropriations Bill: an appropriation bill must be passed to keep American Rescue Plan funds to keep being distributed. 
  • General Assembly Security Personnel: the act passed will both chambers to hire and employ security personnel. 

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