The following is a statement from Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families:
Thank you, Arkansas policymakers.
The best way to provide tax relief has dominated the first two weeks of the Arkansas legislative session. As a reminder, Arkansas’s low-income taxpayers were the only group left out of the personal income tax rate cuts enacted during the 2015 legislative session. Since that time, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has issued numerous analyses about the need to protect state revenue for critical investments in areas such as education, health care, and infrastructure that will move our state forward and allow all Arkansans to share in the state’s future prosperity. We also called on policymakers to limit any tax cuts during the 2017 session to low-income taxpayers who already bear a disproportionate share of the state and local tax burden.
Despite initial calls from some lawmakers to cut taxes even more for the wealthy, Governor Hutchinson and legislative leaders such as Representative Warwick Sabin and Senator Jake Files led the charge to make low-income taxpayers the priority this legislative session. AACF advocated for the creation of a state earned income tax credit (EITC) as the cheaper and more effective way to provide tax relief for low-income working families (thank you, Rep. Sabin and Sen. Files). However, we also applaud Governor Hutchinson for his commitment and efforts to provide low-income tax relief by completing the rate cuts for those at the bottom of the income ladder. He deserves major kudos for holding firm on his commitment to do the right thing while also protecting state revenue for critical investments serving children and families, and we look forward to working with his administration on creating the best possible tax system for all Arkansans. Thank you, Governor Hutchinson for your efforts so far this session.
With the creation of the Legislative Tax Reform Task Force in the Governor’s bill, we realize there will be future battles to fight over tax cuts, and a state EITC deserves their consideration. In the meantime, we still have more work to do during this legislative session to protect state revenue and find creative ways to ensure that we make the critical investments for children and families in areas such as high quality pre-K, quality afterschool and summer programs, health care for vulnerable families, and protecting our most vulnerable children in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.