GOP-Controlled Legislature Just Raised Cell Phone Taxes by $20 Million

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 285 views 

The GOP-controlled State Legislature has increased taxes on cell phone usage and, if one of the bill”s co-sponsors is correct, it may end being $20 million tax increase.

Senate Bill 797 covers expanding broadband services in rural areas, along with providing improved 911 emergency service to rural areas. The bill is sponsored by Senator Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) and Representative Tommy Wren (D-Melbourne).

Last week, the bill passed in the Senate with 33 votes and no one voted against it.

You can read the 22-page bill here, but I challenge you to read the legislation in its entirety and see if you can make heads or tails of it.

The bill came before the House on Wednesday, and thankfully that chamber, unlike the Senate, tapes all of their proceedings. By viewing the video of the bill”s presentation on the House floor on Wednesday the purpose of the bill is brought into focus and it is clear this bill is a tax increase.

Click on and fast forward to the 1:54 mark to view the bill”s discussion.

Rep. Wren presented the bill, making a strong case that this bill was needed to expand broadband to rural areas and to bring 911 services to under-served rural areas.

Representative David Meeks (R-Conway) went to the well of the House and asked Wren to clarify when he closed for the bill if the legislation called for a fee increase for cell phone users.

Republican State Rep Kim Hammer (R-Benton) spoke for the bill immediately after Meeks and said the following in his remarks:

“I”m not in favor of raising taxes in any way, shape or form, but the reality of the matter is that this is raising taxes on my cell phone and it”s one worth paying. I think you got to do it every once in a while.”

Rep. Hammer made it 100% clear this bill was a Online Frans roulette zal het huis een voordeel op leveren van 2,7 procent terwijl dit bij Amerikaans roulette maar liefst 5,26 procent is. tax increase on cell phone users.

When closing for the bill, Rep. Wren said the bill could raise $20 million, with $17 million going to broadband expansion and $3 million going to 911 systems. Wren clearly stated that this bill could increase cell phone fees up to $.40 per month.

The bill passed the House with 79 yeas and 3 nays and is now sitting on Governor Beebe”s desk.

From what I have learned so far I have no problem with this bill. This sounds like a bill that is needed and the funds will be spent on the critically needed areas of broadband expansion and improving the 911 services.

My problem is the blatant hypocrisy of many Arkansas Republican legislators in voting for a tax increase.

Many Republicans who voted for this tax increase also signed the “no new taxes pledge”, which means they broke their word by voting to increase taxes on cell phones. Moreover, I would bet many other Republicans have, at one time or another, railed against government raising taxes.

No new taxes is almost a mantra with many Arkansas Republicans. And what did these Republican legislators do? They raised taxes!!

What is even more galling is I predict that this vote will be used against Democrats running for reelection in 2014. You can bet that Americans for Prosperity and/or the Republic Party of Arkansas will send out slick mailers attacking Democrats for raising taxes on cell phones. And they”ll conveniently forget to mention that in the entire 135 member Legislature, only 3 Republicans voted against it.

No one enjoys raising taxes, but if you want roads, good schools, police and fire protection, etc., the funds have to come from somewhere.

Republicans sign these silly “no new taxes pledges” and then whine like spoiled children when you point out they broke their own word by voting for tax increases using a ridiculous defense of how Democrats should be happy they voted for a tax increase in the first place.

Republicans miss the big picture. How can voters trust elected officials who sign pledges one minute and turn around and break the pledge the next? Their lying erodes trust in our leaders and our government.

Republicans should drop their government by gimmick routine. Republicans can pledge to voters they will fight like hell to keep taxes low and only raise them when absolutely needed, but they”re not going to sign a pledge promising to never raise taxes. It”s what Democrats do already.

The bottom line is the Republican-controlled State Legislature voted this session to raise taxes on cell phones.