A House Republican leader has emailed GOP candidates encouraging them to sign a “no new tax pledge” to help in their campaign fundraising efforts and because tax hikes won’t be proposed under a Republican majority, although an exemption in the pledge would allow for wiggle room.
The email, which was sent by former Arkansas House Majority Leader Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, — now campaign chairman of the House Republican caucus — encourages his party’s candidates to sign the Americans for Tax Reform “No New Tax Pledge” at the state level.
The pledge says:
I, (candidate name), pledge to the taxpayers of the (legislative) District of the state of (Arkansas) and all the people of this state that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.
Burris confirms to Talk Business that he sent the email to all House GOP candidates. He said that despite the strict language in the short ATR pledge, candidates can abide by the commitment if they support a net reduction in taxes — meaning they can vote for some tax increases or elimination of deductions without violating the pledge.
“It’s an achievable goal. It simply takes conservatives who are going to stand their ground and govern without raising tax revenue,” Burris said.
He provided a link to an ATR frequently asked questions page, which states: “While ATR opposes any tax increase as a matter of principle, the Pledge does not require opposition to revenue neutral reform. However, for tax reform to be considered revenue neutral, a tax increase must be tied to an offsetting tax cut of at least equal size.”
Generally, the offset must be specified in the same piece of legislation. Furthermore, the tax increase and tax cut must occur in a reasonable and corresponding time window, meaning a tax increase cannot simply be offset by a tax cut in the out-years.
Burris said under the logic of the ATR pledge, Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and recent Democratic-controlled legislatures deserve some recognition for reducing the grocery tax and other taxes, even though they voted to increase tobacco taxes, the severance tax and other fee and license measures.
Technically, Beebe did not tie many of his proposed tax reductions to tax hikes although some did occur simultaneously during the same legislative sessions. The net tax reduction to Arkansans during the Beebe administration equals roughly $730 million, according to Department of Finance and Administration calculations.
“Credit where credit is due,” Burris said. “It is fair to say this is not an extreme position.”
Burris said he would be in favor of closing unspecified loopholes and exemptions in the current tax code, if it leveled the playing field for taxpayers.
A Joint Revenue and Tax Committee, led by Rep. Davy Carter, R-Cabot, has been reviewing state tax policies for the potential purpose of reform.
“Tax loopholes and credits for big business are the problem at the state and federal level,” said Burris. “We need a tax code that is fair and favors the majority of Arkansans, not just the well-connected and well-privileged.”
Burris’ email, which is pasted below, also touts other reasons for GOP candidates to sign the pledge. One reason he advocated says “go ahead and sign a pledge that says you’re not going to do something you won’t be asked to do anyway.”
Another reason cited includes signing the pledge for fundraising purposes.
“Finally, based on the 2010 general election cycle and the 2012 primary election cycle, it is safe to assume that outside groups will in large part support only candidates who sign the pledge. It can make a difference in their race,” the email states.
EMAIL FROM BURRIS TO CANDIDATES
Here is a link to the Americans for Tax Reform “No New Tax Pledge”
I encourage you to sign it. Here’s why:
1) The new Republican majority will not be proposing any new tax increases. We’re heading in the other direction. I’d go ahead and sign a pledge that says you’re not going to do something you won’t be asked to do anyway.
2) Currently the average Arkansan pays over $.40 of every $1.00 earned to the local, state, and federal government. If you think that’s too high, sign a pledge that says you won’t make it higher.
3) Arkansas currently ranks near the highest on per capita tax burden, as it relates to income (6th on the last study I saw). If you think that’s too high, sign the pledge that says you won’t make it higher.
4) The pledge simply states you won’t make tax burden any higher. You can reduce one tax while increasing another. The net result of tax collection simply must not increase.
5) Finally, based on the 2010 general election cycle and the 2012 primary election cycle, it is safe to assume that outside groups will in large part support only candidates who sign the pledge. It can make a difference in their race.
Let me know if you have any questions. Also, please let me know if you decide to sign or not sign.