Two years ago, I took office as Arkansas’ Governor with the single belief that our state government can and should do better. I believe deeply in our state, in our strength and creativity, in our faith and in our future. And while we have a lot to be grateful for, I also know we have our work cut out for us.
First and foremost, our system of state taxes puts our state at a disadvantage. Taxes are simply too high. That’s why I started my term as governor with the largest income tax cut in state history. Three months after being sworn in, we passed the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2015 and returned $100 million annually to middle-class Arkansans. That translates into significant savings for our middle-class families – about $1000 a year for a family of four.
We didn’t stop there. This February, we addressed low-income families with the state’s second-largest cut ever. I signed into law a tax cut of $50 million to benefit families that earn less than $21,000 a year. Then I signed House Bill 1162, which eliminates the state income tax for our retired servicemen and women. This is our way, as a state, to thank members of the armed forces for their service to our country. My hope is that retired veterans will choose to live in Arkansas and start a second career or open a business.
We’ve cut $150 million from the state budget, and we’ve done it without cutting essential services. Instead, my administration has taken a hard look at the cost of state government. We’ve consolidated agencies, developed efficiencies, and cut administrative costs and overhead. We’ve also balanced the budget every year and created a long-term reserve fund. But don’t think for a moment that we’re anywhere close to done. We are laying the groundwork for even greater change – for ways to make your state government more responsive to the needs that matter most, and to do so at less cost and greater efficiency. In the coming months, I look forward to laying out my plans for our state, and for future tax cuts and government reforms.
I am not done cutting taxes. Even as I speak, the legislature’s Tax Reform and Relief Task Force is analyzing ways to reform our state's tax code.
My goal is to lower the income tax rate to a competitive rate in order to let hard-working Arkansans keep more of their hard-earned money.