Leslie Rutledge, a Republican candidate for governor, said Thursday that she’d work to organize a campaign to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2022 to end the state income tax.
What precisely would the amendment say?
Who and how will an amendment campaign be organized, given the immense hurdles erected by the legislature to citizen petition campaigns?
Specifics will be announced at a later date, her campaign spokesman Drew Evans said. Of course. Better to serve pie in the sky than provide specifics for analysis.
Her release and accompanying video said Rutledge intends to “permanently eliminate” the income tax. An account by Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press quoted Rutledge as saying she would eliminate the tax by 2030.
Seven years to set fire to the economy sufficiently to recoup the loss of about half of the state’s annual haul from income taxes — more than $4 billion in the year that ended June 30.
Where will that $4 billion come from? Increased sales taxes on economic activity, even with all the sales tax carve-outs for business? Booze taxes? Yet another fuel tax increase? Maybe a $1,000 license tag for electric cars. You could sell that to the legislature.
Details, details. All you need to know is that free beer is coming.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders also has jumped in the free-beer-tomorrow sweepstakes with a slightly more sensible statement that she’d cut taxes for starters and aim to “phase out” the income tax.
Economist John Pickett wrote in the Democrat-Gazette this morning about such fantasies, particularly related to the current legislative effort to hire an outside consultant to cook the books on a scenario in which “dynamic scoring” is used to produce a gloss of numbers for the fiction that tax cuts will spur economic activity that more than makes up for lost income tax revenue. A sample of what Pickett had to say:
Remember that the only economic policy offered by Republicans is to cut taxes. Significant inefficiencies in higher education, the Department of Higher Ed and some other government departments continue unaddressed. They assert that tax cuts lead to wondrous things. The only problem is that aggressive tax cuts lead to a shrinkage in government services, more debt or both. The best evidence is that the large tax cuts in Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana led to significant reductions in the states’ education, highway and other budgets. Further evidence on the national level includes George W. Bush’s and Donald Trump’s large tax cuts followed by the ballooning national debt and no surge in gross domestic product.
Governor Hutchinson, Rutledge, Sanders and the dreamers of the legislature will not be deterred. Free beer tomorrow. And another windfall of tens of millions for the millionaires. And many of them are just lucky sperm club members, clipping coupons on inherited wealth and not even suffering the payroll taxes assessed on the working poor.