Special session wraps, governor signs tax cuts


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The General Assembly took on the last portion of the bills for consideration during the Special Session. 

The most notable legislation was the proposed state income tax cuts, which would eventually drop the top rates of the personal income tax to 4.9% and once all parts are implemented would take out roughly $500 million from the state’s budget.

Once the business of the call was concluded Senator Jason Rapert and Representative Mary Bentley attempted to add their mirroring Heartbeat Bill to things the legislature would take up.

Supporters of the bill lobbied their colleagues to not adjourn the Session.

“In Texas, babies’ lives are being saved today and have been for 90 days,” State Senator Bob Ballinger said.

“There’s never the wrong time to do the right thing and we can save children’s lives here in Arkansas,” Representative Bentley said on the House floor.

Ultimately both chambers decided to adjourn sine die and that concluded the Second Special Session of the 93rd General Assembly.

In a statement, Senator Rapert said “ This is a sad day for the unborn in Arkansas.  The legislature had the ability to protect unborn Arkansans today and not wait for months for the United States Supreme Court to render its opinion.  It is unfortunate that the political will needed from the legislative branch to protect unborn Arkansans from the crime against humanity that is abortion was ceded to the political agenda of the Governor.”

Governor Hutchinson issues a statement in response saying, “Arkansas has been and continues to be the most pro-life state in the country.  Arkansas’s most recent direct challenge to Roe v. Wade is currently under review by the courts.  It makes sense that we wait for a Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade and the Texas civil enforcement law before we pass additional laws.  The people of Arkansas were the winners in this special session with the historic tax cuts and the fact is that Sen. Rapert could not win support from his colleagues for his bill.  Instead of working with his colleagues, Sen. Rapert chose to politically grandstand and that rarely leads to good legislation.” 

Thursday afternoon Governor Hutchinson signed the tax cut bill into law.  Many on hand for the signing, including the Governor said the state is able to comfortably afford these tax cuts.

“We’re growing as a state, we’re creating jobs and that’s producing a climate that we can be more competitive in our tax cut,” Hutchinson said.

“I think we have a track record over the last number of years to be able to cut taxes and still deliver the services the people of Arkansas have come to expect,” Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd said.

The Governor added he thought it was poor form to diminish any tax cuts, but especially those for low-income tax earners, who are seeing less as a result of these cuts in real dollars but it is a bigger percentage cut.

“They’re making the case that they would rather trust government to spend the money wisely rather than put it in the pocket of individuals and I disagree with that philosophically,” Governor Hutchinson said.

When asked if the next goal for state income tax cuts would be to get rid of the state income tax, Governor Hutchinson said he just wants to take it step by step.

“Let’s enjoy this moment, we’ve got a plan out for the next couple of years, I don’t think we need to go beyond that right now,” the governor said.

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