State surplus predicted near $1.5 billion by June 30, spurring talk, not of services, but tax cuts
As expected, the Arkansas surplus will be far more than the recently topped $1 billion level, according to a new forecast reported this morning by Michael Wickline in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
State finance officials predict a surplus of $1.47 billion for the year ending June 30 and almost a billion for the following year, after an income tax cut takes effect.
The governor wants a special session for more tax-cutting. So do legislators. Precious little reference can be found in the article to addressing the state’s many needs for improved public service.
Make a coming tax cut, which favors the rich, retroactive to the start of this year? Slash the top tax rate for the rich even more? Provide more tax cuts for small businesses and farmers? Send some checks out from the surplus? Add even more millions to the states existing $1.2 billion reserve fund, which is on top of this year’s surplus?
Rep. Lane Jean at least sounded a note of caution about unsettled world economic factors in moving too quickly.
Spending side? No mention.
Clearly, the forecast has been too conservative for months. Clearly, the state has needs in education, prisons, public safety, and health care. Example: Support through Medicaid for assisted living has declined since 2014. But these are poor people and they fall far down the list of legislative priorities. Another example: The governor, slavering to cut taxes for the rich some more, will leave office with the promise that the waiting list for disabled people needing aid services to stay home might be addressed in a few more years. Why not wipe that list out NOW? Again, these are poor disabled people, not “job creators.”
If the subject is restricted to tax cuts, let’s talk about the state’s obvious ability to enact an earned income tax credit, in which working people get back payroll taxes. It’s an idea invented by Republicans but viewed dimly by the Arkansas Republican legislature. Here, we believe in trickle-down economics. Comfort the rich and, someday, the poor may get trickled upon.
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