During the regular legislative session earlier this year, state lawmakers and Gov. Mike Beebe (D) frequently discussed a connection between nearly $140 million in delayed tax cuts and approval of the state’s private option.
The private option, which was an Arkansas-crafted mechanism to take Medicaid dollars and use it for private insurance coverage for low-income Arkansans, will be up for a funding vote in the upcoming 2014 fiscal session.
Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports that legislators are now viewing the two issues – tax cuts and private option – as separate issues.
However, legislators said last week they view the tax cuts as permanent, regardless of what happens with the private option in the fiscal session.
“To me, they are two independent issues,” said Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, chairman of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Files, who voted for the private option in this year’s regular session and expects the Legislature to support it again next year, nevertheless said the tax cuts will last if the health care expansion plan doesn’t.
“I don’t see repealing the tax cuts as a response to that as being a viable option, nor a threat to get us to support it,” Files said.
Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, who as sponsor of tax cut legislation also voted for the private option, said he will not support any proposal to repeal the reductions.
“In terms of increasing taxes, which is what reversing tax cuts means to me, I see virtually zero probability that will happen,” said Collins, whose tax cut bill reduced the state income tax in all tax brackets by one-tenth percent.
Read more here regarding Gov. Mike Beebe’s comments as well as other legislative leaders who have differing viewpoints.