Aug 9, 2022 - Politics

Arkansas lawmakers don't expect surprises during special session

A photo of the Arkansas State Capitol building.
Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Arkansas lawmakers who spoke with Axios don't expect the special session beginning Tuesday to go off-script.

Between the lines: That means no bills are likely to make it to the floor for teacher pay raises or any — conservative or liberal — changes to the state's abortion law.

What's happening: Gov. Asa Hutchinson's agenda for the third special session of the 93rd General Assembly aims to accelerate individual and corporate tax cuts and to use $50 million from the state's 2022 revenue surplus for school safety.

  • Of note: A two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate is required to extend the session beyond the governor's agenda.

Why it matters: If lawmakers on one side of the aisle are successful in opening the session (for say, teacher raises), other issues may be introduced by the other side (to prohibit interstate travel for an abortion, for instance) — creating what one state representative called a "free-for-all."

Details: If Hutchinson's wishes are honored, the legislature will:

  • Cut the top individual tax rate to 4.9%, retroactive to Jan. 1. As it stands, the rate is 5.5% and isn't scheduled to go to 4.9% until 2025.
  • Lower the corporate income tax rate from 5.9% to 5.3% beginning in 2023, two years ahead of schedule.
  • Create a $150 nonrefundable low- and middle-income tax credit.
  • Transfer $50 million from the state's $1.6 billion 2022 revenue surplus for a school safety grant program.

Meanwhile, teachers and supporters gathered at the state Capitol on Sunday, demanding that teacher pay be addressed in the session.

  • Rep. Megan Godfrey (D-Springdale) told Axios there's still a lot of enthusiasm for the $600 million RAISE Act, and there might still be support to get teachers more money.
  • "I think it'll be a three day session," Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) said.

What we're watching: Both the Senate and House convene Tuesday at 11am.

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