As we approached April 15, also known as Tax Day, I joined a rally in the rotunda here at the capitol for Arkansas Tax Freedom Day, which was an opportunity for me to talk about my vision for reducing our state’s income tax rate.
In the three years since I took office, we have cut taxes by more than $150 million. We passed legislation that exempts the military retirement pay for our veterans.
And I continue to look for ways to cut taxes while maintaining essential services – like the construction and repair of roads and highways, to education and public safety.
But cutting taxes is only a part of my vision for the continued strengthening of Arkansas. All across state government, at every agency, directors, commissioners, and employees in the trenches are always looking for ways of making our government more efficient so that government is agile and responsive to the needs of the state.
One of the obvious benefits of a right-size government is that it does not overburden its citizens, and it supports further tax cuts that will leave more money in taxpayers’ wallets.
Arkansas really is booming. We cut taxes by $150 million, and the economy absorbed that without a hiccup. In the past year, unemployment hit a historic low, and we saw more Arkansans working than ever before in our history. Our unemployment rate continues to be lower than the national rate.
The state’s tax structure has a significant impact on the quality of life for the people of our state, as well as our ability to attract new industry and to grow existing businesses.
That’s why we’ve cut taxes in every legislative session since I’ve been governor, and that is why I’m proposing cutting Arkansas’s marginal individual tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent, a reduction of more than $180 million, when the legislature reconvenes in January of 2019.
And that’s not all we’re doing to ensure government is working for the people. Earlier this year, I announced my intent to reduce the number of executive-level agencies under my direct authority from 42 to fewer than 20.
Legislators are doing their part. Last week, the tax-overhaul task force announced it has identified 43 tax exemptions that it will review.
As part of its review, the task force will hear public testimony when it meets on April 25. This is a chance for you to offer your opinion on the legislators’ suggestions.
This work is occurring at all levels of state government, and our shared goal is to make the state more competitive. The motivation for all this work is to make Arkansas an even better place to live than it already is.
I want people who, like me, grew up in Arkansas and who love this state to be able to live and work and raise their families in Arkansas.