Thu, Sep 14, 2023 12:06 PM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill that rolls back income and corporate taxes and one that granted fewer changes to the Freedom of Information Act than the governor proposed.
The tax cuts will return $250 million to taxpayers in income taxes and $58 million to corporations, Sanders said during Thursday's bill signing. Single taxpayers will receive a $150 one-time tax credit for individuals and $300 for married couples.
"If you are a business owner looking to relocate or a young family looking for a new place to settle down, moving to Arkansas has never been better," Sanders said.
Democrats opposed the tax cuts, saying they could strain the budget. Rep. Denise Garner, D-Fayetteville, quoted an editorial from Republican Kansas lawmaker Don Hineman, who said in an editorial written in July to North Carolina lawmakers that government is a service industry.
"Do not expect that simply cutting taxes will magically produce economic prosperity," Hineman said in the editorial published on WRAL. "It did not happen in Kansas and it will not happen for you."
Garner pushed cuts to other taxes in a speech on the House floor.
“Arkansas has the fifth-highest poverty rate in the nation," Garner said. "One in five children live in poverty. 210,000 Arkansans have lost their health insurance. Tax cuts for the wealthy do not stimulate economic growth. Let's cut taxes that we know help lift the economy and help eliminate poverty like the grocery, drug, or gasoline taxes."
The tax cuts passed along party lines.
Democrats also opposed a bill that would shield some records about the governor's security detail. Senate Bill 10 was a stripped version that would have barred the public from getting records about communications between the governor and their cabinet members.
The bill also includes a provision that requires the Arkansas Public Safety Department to disclose its spending on security for the governor quarterly.
Sanders also signed a bill to ban vaccine mandates for public employees, including public school employees.
The bills passed with an emergency clause that makes them effective immediately.