A group has formed to present the other side of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s determination to enact a massive income tax cut that will give the majority of the benefits to the wealthy. The other side is simple: Tax cuts have costs.
A release announces more details are coming next week:
Arkansans for Responsible Spending will be hosting two, simultaneous press conferences on Wednesday, January 30th at 11:30 a.m. at the state Capitol rotunda in Little Rock and the Jones Center for Nonprofits in Springdale, to share stories of the real impact of tax and budget cuts on everyday Arkansans.
Right now, the General Assembly is considering $400 million in tax cuts for high income earners and corporations; these tax cuts are on top of $300 million the state has already passed since 2013. But many vital state programs have seen flat funding and funding cuts in the past years that have resulted in decreased access and quality like in education and environmental protection. If — like neighboring states Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana — Arkansas adopts even deeper cuts, the negative results on programs and the economy could last for years.
At the press conferences, Arkansans will talk about how current cuts have impacted them and their community and urge state leaders to invest $400 million in critical services for everyday Arkansans, not in tax cuts.
There is no free lunch. If taxes are cut by hundreds of millions, services will have to be beggared further than they already are, absent a sudden growth in revenue not currently apparent.
Additionally, highway contractors are spoiling to divert existing general revenue to highways (already benefitting from a general sales tax); higher education is getting strangled; we provide negligible support for UAMS even as Republican legislative women claim to support, but provide no money for, a cancer research center that will need $10 to $20 million a year in regular support; we are cutting aid to poor people (the Medicaid cut caused by the “work rule” will actually harm the economy with reductions in insurance fees and loss of health care jobs); millions are needed to address environmental problems; schools are falling behind in receiving money sufficient for constitutionally required adequate and equal education, and, well, the list is long. Don’t forget, too, that existing casinos at Oaklawn and Southland get a $38 million tax cut this year under the new gambling amendment and it will be a couple of years before any new gambling revenue is online (and that revenue has a downside, too, draining income from the pockets of poor folks that otherwise might be spent productively.)
The math is simple. Asa’s plan gives two-thirds of the tax cut to the top 5 percent of income earners (people making more than $199,000).
What’s more, as written, the tax cut plan actually INCREASES taxes for many poor and middle-income taxpayers. Asa and his nephew in the Senate promise to fix this somehow.