Arkansas House and Senate committees advance tax cut, school safety bills

Arkansas Capitol Building in Little Rock (Adobe Photo/Paul Brady)

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

The House and Senate Revenue and Taxation committees endorsed identical bills outlining the tax cuts proposed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who called the session. Both chambers are expected to take up the legislation Wednesday.

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

The Joint Budget Committee also endorsed a bill creating the $50 million grant program for school safety measures. That measure now goes to the Senate for a vote. Hutchinson called for the program following the May shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that killed 19 students and two teachers.

Democratic lawmakers have called for raising teacher salaries during the session 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.

Any proposal on teacher raises would need least two-thirds support in both chambers to be considered since the issue is not on the session agenda.