Arkansas lawmakers begin special session on tax cuts and school safety; teacher raises not included

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson holds up an interim report from a commission formed to review school safety measures at a news conference at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. A proposed $50 million grant program for school safety is on the agenda for a legislative special session that is being held this week. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers began a special session Tuesday to take up tax cuts and a school safety grant program, spurred by the state’s $1.6 billion surplus.

The House and Senate convened for the session called by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson said the tax cuts are needed because of inflation and the state’s record surplus.

The cuts include accelerating reductions in individual and corporate income taxes that the majority-Republican Legislature approved last year.

Lawmakers are also taking up a proposal to set aside $50 million for school safety measures.

Democratic lawmakers have called for raising teacher salaries but have faced resistance from Republican leaders who say the proposal should be taken up next year. Hutchinson earlier this year proposed teacher raises, but decided against putting it on the agenda because of lack of support.

Democrats would need at least two-thirds support in both chambers to take up teacher raises because they’re not on the session agenda.