As it heads into its second meeting, a legislative tax reform task force is being encouraged by the state’s No. 2 statewide elected official to reduce the burden on taxpayers, to seek “bold comprehensive” changes, and to embrace a new approach to government services.
Lt. Governor Tim Griffin, R-Ark., sent a letter to the 16-member Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force on Tuesday (June 6) asking for three key areas to be addressed. They include simplifying the tax code, lowering the tax burden, and pushing for a transformation in state government.
“As lieutenant governor, a former member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and a taxpayer, I am excited about the possibility of bold comprehensive tax reform and relief that result in pro-growth tax policies to help Arkansas compete and grow jobs,” Griffin wrote.
“For years, I have listened to Arkansans from all walks of life talk about how burdensome the tax code is and how it cries out for reform – bold comprehensive reform,” he added. “I support Texarkana’s income tax exemption 100%, but doesn’t it tell us something when our tax code is so uncompetitive we have to exempt an entire town from a key part of it?”
Griffin said simplifying the tax code could involve revising tax brackets, removing exemptions on personal and business income, eliminating the capital gains tax. He also pushed for lowering the tax burden on citizens, not just making recommendations that would be “revenue-neutral reforms.”
Griffin also championed more innovation in state government, which he noted was not a charge of the task force but was certainly key to reforming taxes.
“Why do Arkansans pay so much in taxes? It’s because Arkansas state government requires too much revenue to function – it spends too much,” Griffin said.
“Transformation is the answer. Transformation is not about trimming a few government agencies and programs. To the contrary, it is about rethinking and modernizing state government over a period of years, allowing tax dollars to be spent where they are most needed, and making sure our hard-working state employees have the tools they need to do their jobs. It is the key to tax reform and relief, and I applaud Governor Hutchinson for making transformation a priority,” he said.
The Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force meets at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7 in Room A at the Big MAC building on the capitol grounds.