Arkansas Senate Approves $140M Tax Cut Package

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Friday, Apr. 19, 2013 7:28 am  

House Speaker Davy Carter: "It's still real money and people have it and spend it. It's their money."

"I don't think we're just taking it and putting it out of circulation," said House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot. "It's still real money and people have it and spend it. It's their money."

The tax cuts advanced after a November election where Republicans won control of the state Legislature, with many GOP candidates running on an anti-tax vow.

Some Republicans, however, complained that the size of the tax cuts that will take effect in the coming year was too small. Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said the $10 million in reductions paled in comparison to a $125 million financing package the state approved to help build a steel mill. He said the number could have been larger if the Legislature didn't plan on using a portion of the state's projected $300 million surplus for projects he derided as "pork barrel" spending.

"I support any tax cuts, but I think the decimal point should be more to the right," Hester said.

Advocacy groups said they feared that the larger reductions that will come eventually will be at the expense of some state services that have remained flat over the past few years. Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said the move was "risky."

"I think in terms of children and vulnerable families, these tax cuts could really jeopardize funding of critical programs two or three years down the road," Huddleston said. "Maybe not this first year, but the cumulative impact of these tax bills they're going to pass out add up to big, big bucks."

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