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The Latest: Arkansas governor backs $180M tax cut for '19

Arkansas State Capitol

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on the start of Arkansas' legislative session (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

Arkansas' governor says he wants to cut the income tax for the state's top earners by $180 million, and says his plan to set aside $48 million in surplus money will help set the stage for that reduction.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers Monday he'll push for cutting the state's top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent. Hutchinson issued the recommendation as lawmakers convened for an abbreviated session focused on the state's budget.

Hutchinson, who's seeking re-election, says he'll push for the tax cut next year. A task force studying the state's tax code is expected to make its tax cut recommendations this fall.

The session began as questions loom about whether there will be enough support to keep the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion another year.


12:05 p.m.

Arkansas lawmakers have kicked off a legislative session focused on a proposed $5.6 billion budget for the coming year and still face questions about whether there will be enough support to keep the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion alive.

The House and Senate convened Monday for the start of this year's fiscal session, the fifth under a 2008 constitutional amendment that requires the Legislature to meet and budget annually. It'll take a two-thirds vote of both chambers for any non-budget bills to even be considered during the abbreviated session.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's budget proposal projects a $64 million surplus, most of which he's proposed setting aside as a reserve fund that he says can set the stage for future tax cuts. The remaining surplus money would go toward highway needs.