We need to talk about candidates for the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate legislature and their stand on imposing taxes.
Yes, we know the big issue this week is Governor Asa Hutchinson using state taxpayer money to attract Chinese companies that are clients of his law firm, Asa Hutchinson Law Group. Conduit News with Paul Harrell broke that story and has followed up with extensive details. One mainstream media outlet, KATV, is now asking questions. To get up to date on that story go to CONDUIT NEWS. CFA will follow up later, but for today because of filing deadlines we need to talk about taxes and candidates. Candidate filing for the 2020 elections ends Tuesday, Nov 12 at 12 noon.
We wondered how the political parties compared when it came to votes in 2019 to impose taxes. We know about what the parties say they stand for. But how did the legislators in the Democrat and Republican parties vote on taxes?
Here is what we found.
- Democrats in the 2019 Arkansas General Assembly were more likely to vote to impose taxes than Republicans
- But it was the Republicans who provided most of the votes for the taxes. In fact, so many Republicans voted to impose taxes that only a few Democrat votes were needed to pass a series of bills imposing taxes.
What Taxes Are We Talking About?
During the 2019 session of the Arkansas General Assembly, Conduit For Action tracked and opposed seven bills to impose taxes. (One measure was a “resolution” to put a tax on your ballot but for simplicity sake we will call all the measures “bills.”)
Unfortunately, the legislature passed nearly all of them. This includes:
- An internet sales tax you pay on your online purchases from out-of-state sellers (SB576)
- Gas and Diesel fuel tax increases (SB336)
- Putting a ½% sales tax on the ballot at the 2020 election (HJR1018)
- Tax increases on tobacco products and e-cigarettes (HB1565)
- A tax increase on your cell phone bills (HB1564)
- A tax increase on water bills (HB1737)
The only one of the bills imposing taxes not to pass was SB571 by Senator Jim Hendren. It would have added a special excise tax on cigarettes and an e-cigarette privilege tax to fund a redistribution of wealth called an “Earned Income Tax Credit.” There was nothing “earned” about it. It was a giveaway, and the giveaway looked like a deal to pay back Democrats for supporting several taxes the Governor wanted. It passed in the Senate but by the time it got to the House of Representatives there was enough opposition to the redistribution of wealth that the bill never came to a vote.
We also need to note that to help pass the taxes, several of the bills that passed dedicated the money to specific purposes. CFA did not take a position on the causes. What CFA opposed was resorting to more taxes while at the same time the state is piling more money into discretionary spending, pouring money into crony capitalism and giveaways, and still doesn’t consider a state program’s performance and importance in budgeting and instead give across the board increases.
Democrats or Republicans?
Of the seven bills we tracked, Democrats were more likely to vote “Yes” for the taxes. (Not a surprise.) BUT since the Democrats only hold a small percentage of the House and Senate, it was the Republicans who made up most of the “Yes” votes for the taxes, and it was Republicans who were the lead sponsors of all seven bills.
In the Senate,
- So many Republicans voted “Yes” on SB336, SB576, HJR1018, and HB1564 there would have been a majority vote even if the Democrats had failed to vote for the taxes.
- On HB1565 and HB1737, so many Republicans voted “Yes” that only two Democrat votes were needed to attain a majority vote.
- On SB571 Republicans needed only six Democrat votes to reach a majority. This was the redistribution of wealth bill that passed in the Senate but was stopped in the House without a vote.
In the House of Representatives,
- There were so many Republican “Yes” votes on HB1564, the cell phone tax, that there was a large majority for the tax even if no Democrat had voted for it.
- So many Republicans voted “Yes” on SB336, SB576, HB1565, and HJR1018 that the tax bill needed only six or fewer Democrats for there to be a majority.
- HB1737, the water bill tax, had the least Republican support and needed thirteen Democrat votes to reach a majority.
Where did the Republican majority in the Arkansas legislature stand in 2018 on imposing taxes and spending? Mostly with the Democrats.
The current state of politics is such that officeholders run on party platforms but few adhere to the party principles. Here we are talking about the Arkansas Republican platform which includes the principle “Lower taxes to produce economic growth.”
With so few following the principle, we want to again say “thank you” to these very few legislators who stood firm and did not vote for any of theses taxes:
Julie Mayberry (R– Hensley)
Austin McCollum (R– Bentonville)
Josh Miller (R– Heber Springs)
John Payton (R– Wilburn)
Clint Penzo (R– Springdale)
Richard Womack (R– Arkadelphia)
How did your legislator vote? Below are links showing their votes.
Looking to 2021
If you are a fiscal conservative, the 2021 legislative session will still be an uphill battle, unless incumbent legislators have a change of heart. For this to happen it would their constituents continually pressing them to listen to them … instead of listening to lobbyists (including bureaucrats).
Why do we say that? There are few seats with no incumbent running and few incumbents will face an opponent from the right. Candidate filing time will soon be over and so far, few incumbents will have an opponent in the party primary. This is normal in Arkansas.
Therefore, every seat in the House and Senate will be critical.
Even a slight gain in the number of fiscal conservatives in the legislature can make a huge difference in the fight against the current tax and spend mentality of state government. Having even a few more fiscal conservatives in the legislature could help other legislators who have been following the “yes” crowd to find the strength to say “No” to higher taxes and “No” to growing government.
WILL THERE BE A CHANGE FROM ARKANSAS’ TAX AND SPEND MENTALITY? IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOU.
THE LOBBYISTS AND BUREAUCRATS ARE ALREADY HARD AT WORK TO KEEP THE STATUS QUO. WILL YOU DO NOTHING, AND LET THEM USE MONEY AND POWER TO SECURE THE LOYALTY OF POLITICIANS, OR WILL YOU FIGHT THEM FOR CONTROL OF SPENDING AND TAXES.