FEBRUARY 11, 2007
JONESBORO, AR -- With the fifth week of the 86th General Assembly completed, the biggest thing so far has been the talk of tax cuts, especially since Arkansas's revenue is on a high.
Just this past Friday, cutting the state sales tax on groceries from 6% to 3% became closer to reality. The bill has already been approved in the house and the senate and now goes on to the governor.
"We know that everybody works hard for the money that have and they need all the money they can to get by and make a living, so we're going to respond to that and send some of that money back to you all," says State Senator Paul Bookout of Jonesboro (District 14).
Now with that bill out of the way, Senator Bookout says he foresees education becoming the next hot topic in the senate; in particular the costly concerns with our state's education facilities.
"You're hearing all kinds of numbers, anywhere from 250 to 400 million, so who really knows. Obviously that's something that's going to be paramount for all of us to deal with," says Senator Bookout.
Tax relief seems to be almost a certainty now in both the house and the senate, with the recent passage of the grocery tax cut. Two other bills in progress are to cut the state income tax and the manufacturers' tax.
"You're talking about $150 million in direct tax relief to the taxpayers of the state of Arkansas," says State Representative Chris Thyer of Jonesboro.
Another tax cut bill that Representative Thyer sponsored is already sitting on the governor's desk to be signed. With the price of off-road diesel so high, this bill would replace the state's 6% sales tax on off-road diesel with a 6-cent per gallon increase. In laymen's terms, that's money saved for the farmer.
"Farmers in Region 8 will see their tax bill go from about 13 cents per gallon to about 6 cents per gallon July 1 of this year. I think that will have a direct positive benefit not only for the farmers in Region 8, but all of us," adds Representative Thyer.