A coalition of groups has announced opposition to the huge tax cut package given preliminary endorsement by a Republican-stacked study group this week.
This statement was issued by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, American Association of University Women – Little Rock Branch; Arkansas Community Organizations: Arkansas Public Policy Panel; Arkansas Support Network; Arkansas United Community Coalition, and Faith Voices Arkansas.
Earlier this week, the General Assembly’s Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force voted to recommend a series of over a quarter billion dollars in tax breaks and loopholes that, if approved by the General Assembly in 2019, would be very damaging to Arkansans. Many of their proposals will not help the state’s economy but will instead take us down the dangerous path we have seen in states like Kansas. These ill-considered recommendations must be paid for somehow. Just one proposal — dropping the top income tax rate to 5.9 percent — will cut state revenue by $192 million and would likely force cuts to critical programs that Arkansas children, families, and the elderly rely on.
Many important programs are already running on tight budgets that are affecting quality and preventing individuals from accessing the services they need. Due to low salaries, schools are not able to recruit and retain teachers. Thousands of children and adults are waiting to receive developmental disability services. And there are still too few case workers in the foster care system. The new tax cuts being proposed by the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force will only compound the damage being caused by the starvation diet that the state has already implemented on vital programs.
“Public policy has a huge impact on the well-being of our children and families and our state’s economic well-being,” said Rich Huddleston, Executive Director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. “If Arkansas lawmakers focused less on tax cuts for high-income earners and corporations and more on pro-family policies and investments that make our state more appealing, we could increase the competitiveness of our workforce, attract more people to Arkansas, and strengthen the state’s economy.”
There are a few proposals, like requiring out-of-state sellers to collect and remit Arkansas sales taxes due on online purchases made by Arkansas residents, that would help raise revenue. However, these proposals are just a drop in the bucket compared to the massive package of cuts.
We grow by investing and building, not by cutting back or tearing down. The best thing we can do to improve Arkansas’s economic well-being is to focus on those things that provide economic opportunity — supporting great schools, building high-quality infrastructure, creating the quality of life that draws people to our state. These are the investments that build a thriving and prosperous state. And we’ll have money to invest and grow if we clean up the tax code to work for all Arkansans, not just a select few.
When the General Assembly convenes in 2019, we hope that legislators will see these recommendations for what they are: a one-sided package that helps a select few, not the majority of Arkansans.