Tax cut session to happen soon; Governor says it’s ‘premature’ to include abortion bill

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 587 views 

A special session to consider an income tax reduction will be called “as soon as we get the votes lined up,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday (Oct. 13). He also said it is “premature” for legislators to consider a Texas-style abortion bill during the called session.

The governor has worked to lower income taxes during his two terms in office. Hutchinson and legislative leaders are working on a plan to drop the top income tax rate from 5.9% to at least 5.5%, if not lower. Gov. Hutchinson said the session could be called as early as next week and will include “clean up items” to previously passed legislation.

Some, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, have called for a move to eventually eliminate the income tax. Eliminating the state income tax would cut nearly half of the state’s current general revenues – just under $4 billion – and likely require revenue to come from other sources. Individual income tax revenue was $3.969 billion in the most recent fiscal year, up 16.1% compared with the same period in 2019-2020.

Arkansans would easily support eliminating the state personal income tax, even if it meant increasing other taxes or cutting state services, according to a recent Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll.

In response to a media question, Gov. Hutchinson said he understands it’s likely legislators will consider non-tax bills during a called session but said he won’t avoid a special session because of that concern.

Some legislators have discussed legislation similar to that passed in Texas which effectively outlaws abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court has so far declined to consider the Texas law, but the U.S. Department of Justice is actively seeking to block it. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering this term a case that could revive a Kentucky law designed to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. Hutchinson said Arkansas already has a law restricting abortion and it would be premature to add to that law until the courts rule on pending abortion laws.

“We need some guidance from the Supreme Court. I mean, in the next month or so you’re going to have additional guidance from the court system as to what is going to be permissible. We have the most conservative and pro-life bill passed in the country right here in Arkansas now. So let’s let these very pro-life bills work through the court system hopefully to get good definitive rulings and guidance on that,” he said Wednesday during his weekly press briefing.