Committee business rules first day of special session on tax cuts, school safety

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,000 views 

Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday (Aug. 9) convened late in the morning and made short work of their first day of an expected quick special session.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a call for an extraordinary session of the Arkansas Legislature to accelerate corporate and individual income tax cuts, sync up state law with a federal depreciation rule, and provide a tax credit for lower income individuals. The governor has also asked for $50 million for grants to schools for student safety expenses.

The two chambers’ respective revenue and tax committees passed HB 1002 and SB 1 which combines all of the tax reform measures into the two mirror bills. Rep. Joe Jett, R-Success, chairman of the House Revenue and Tax committee, is the lead sponsor of HB 1002, while Sen. Jonathan Dismang, chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, was the lead sponsor of SB 1. There are 23 Republican Senators listed as co-sponsors of the bill; 52 Republican Representatives are co-sponsors on the tax reform measure. No Democrats are listed as sponsors.

The total tab for the tax reform measures is estimated at $400 million.

SB 2, sponsored by 64 legislators including education committee chairs Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Rep. Bruce Cazort, R-Hot Springs, creates an appropriation for school safety grants. It transfers $50 million from the state’s $1.6 billion budget surplus for this purpose. Rep. Deborah Ferguson, D-West Memphis, is the only Democrat on the bill.

The measure passed out of the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday.

All three bills will be considered on either the House or Senate floor on Wednesday.

Democrats have introduced an alternative income tax bill. HB 1001 by lead sponsor Rep. Andrew Collins, D-Little Rock, would address tax credits and federal depreciation, but would not accelerate corporate and individual income taxes.

Rep. David Tollett, R-Marvell, filed HB 1003, which would eliminate income taxes on the first $60,000 for teachers, law enforcement officers and firefighters.