Arkansas lawmakers pass tax cut package, adjourn session

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday approved a $500 million tax cut package and adjourned a special session without taking up teacher raises, abortion ban exceptions or other issues Democrats had hoped to add to the agenda.

The majority-Republican House and Senate gave final approval to the tax cuts proposed by GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state’s surplus reached $1.6 billion. Hutchinson planned to sign the legislation Thursday afternoon.

The legislation includes a proposal to speed up when corporate and individual income tax cuts lawmakers approved last year take effect.

Democrats had hoped to extend the session to consider raising teacher salaries. Hutchinson proposed teacher raises earlier this year, but decided against putting it on the session agenda because of a lack of support in the Legislature.

GOP leaders have said the session wasn’t the right time because the Legislature hadn’t completed its annual review of school funding.

Other bills Democrats hoped to add included one adding rape and incest exceptions to the state’s abortion ban.

The House also gave final approval to setting aside $50 million for a school safety grant program Hutchinson proposed after the Texas school shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers.