Arkansas governor calls for special session on tax cuts and funds for hunting and fishing agency

Arkansas House Speaker Matthew Shepherd speaks to reporters in the House gallery at the state Capitol on Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Little Rock, Ark. Joint Budget Committee Co-chair Lane Jean, left, and Speaker-designate Brian Evans, center, listen. The Legislature adjourned with the House not giving final approval to the budget for the state Game and Fish Commission. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday called a special legislative session to take up tax cuts and the budget for the agency overseeing hunting and fishing.

The Republican governor said in a post on X that she’s calling for $500 million in income and $50 million in property tax cuts during the special session, scheduled to begin next week on Monday.

“Democrats in DC are failing, but we are blazing a path to greater prosperity for our people,” Sanders wrote.

Sanders proposed cutting the state’s top income tax rate from 4.4% to 3.9% and the top corporate rate from 4.8% to 4.3%, effective January 1. The Republican governor also called for increasing the homestead tax credit from $425 to $500.

The announcement comes about a month after lawmakers adjourned this year’s session without approving a budget for the state Game and Fish Commission. The move puts the state’s hunting and fishing programs in limbo unless lawmakers approve a budget before the fiscal year begins July 1.

The $175 million appropriation for the 636-employee agency fell short of the 75 votes needed in the House, which came primarily from objections to it raising the maximum allowed salary for its director. It marked the first time in more than 20 years that lawmakers adjourned a session without approving an agency’s budget.

Sanders has signed two income tax cuts into law since taking office in January 2023. She’s pushing for the latest cuts as finance officials are projecting the state will end the current fiscal year with a $708 million surplus.