An income tax cut bill passed out of the House Revenue and Tax committee on a roll call vote Tuesday (February 12). The legislation would drop the top marginal income tax rate from 6.9% to 5.9% and would save taxpayers $97 million per year once fully implemented.
A hostile amendment to gut tax relief to job creators and top income earners was presented by Rep. Charles Blake (D – Little Rock) before the bill was heard. It was soundly defeated on a voice vote.
Rep. Joe Jett (R – Success) and Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R – Beebe) presented the legislation before the committee. They stressed that low income and middle-income earners had already seen tax cuts in previous legislative sessions and that job creators would see the bulk of relief under the bill. Jett spoke about the need to be more competitive due to Arkansas’s high tax burden.
Rep. Jim Wooten (R – Beebe) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Elm Springs) pushed back on testimony from those speaking against the tax cut. Wooten stated he felt a great sense of resentment from a methodist minister’s comments against those that have worked hard and are fortunate to have high incomes. Wooten felt job creators and successful people should not be treated less than any other citizen of Arkansas. Lundstrum went further saying it was offensive to slam someone who is successful who also donates generously through their churches, schools, and hospitals. Arkansas has been ranked as the second most generous state in the country for charitable contributions.
The legislation now heads to the House floor where it must receive 75 votes out of the 100-member house of representatives.
Rep. Dan Douglas (R – Bentonville) did not vote on the bill. During the committee he expressed concern about how the tax cut would be paid for since there have been no cuts in spending. All other Republicans on the committee voted for the tax cut, and all democrats voted against it. Rep. Andy Davis and Rep. Roger Lynch were absent.
Full Committee Roll Call:
Attendance Sheet for Committee: