Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $50 million tax cut plan won approval Monday in the Arkansas House and Senate. But a final vote is needed before the legislation heads to the governor’s desk for signature.
Speaking on behalf of the bill in his chamber, Sen. Jim Hendren, Republican-Gravette, said the plan would save money for nearly 660,000 low income Arkansans.
"All of these are people who are making $8, $9, $10, $11 per hour. It's the people who are working as waiters and waitresses, people who are working in factory jobs; it's the entry-level workers; it's the college kids who have jobs; it's a lot of these people who work hard every day and I think it's fair and appropriate that we look at these people before we consider those who are up on the upper end of the income scale," Hendren said.
The Senate approved the bill 33-0.
A short time later an identical bill was taken up in the House, getting a brief statement from Rep. Mathew Pitsch, Republican-Fort Smith.
"We're sent here to do the best we can for the citizens of Arkansas. This tax bill gets 1,346,000 Arkansans a tax cut in the last 25 months. I would appreciate a good vote," Pitsch said, incorporating those impacted by his bill and the governor's tax cut passed two years ago for middle income tax payers.
The House approved it 90-to-two, with five voting present.
Some Republicans wanted deeper tax cuts. To win their support, the proposal includes creation of a 16-member legislative task force that would recommend comprehensive tax code changes by the fall of 2018.
A vote on a competing $40 million tax credit proposal from Democratic Rep. Warwick Sabin of Little Rock was delayed Monday. He has been pushing for a state Earned Income Tax Credit and has said the governor's plan and his could work well together.