LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Ahead of the second meeting of a legislative tax task force Wednesday, the lieutenant governor sent a letter to its 16 members, asking them for "bold comprehensive reform."
Lt. Governor Tim Griffin challenged the members of the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force to simplify the tax code, lower the tax burden and embrace transformation in state government.
"For years, I have listened to Arkansans from all walks of life talk about how burdensome the tax code is and how it cries out for reform- bold comprehensive reform," Griffin wrote. "I support Texarkana's income tax exemption 100 percent, but doesn't it tell us something when our tax code is so uncompetitive we have to exempt an entire town from a key part of it? And to this day, the problem persists."
Griffin believes the task force could simplify the tax code by revising bracket structures, removing unnecessary exemptions and eliminating the capital gains tax.
He applauded the Natural State for its progress over the past two years in reducing the tax burden on its citizens but said more work needs to be done.
"Simply put, Arkansans are taxed too much," Griffin wrote. "While the complexity of our code is a problem, Arkansas's lack of competitiveness is chiefly due to exceedingly high taxes, not a complicated bracket structure."
Griffin argues the price of doing business in Arkansas diverts potential job creators to other states.
He challenged the task force to focus on relief just as much as reform.
"Why do Arkansans pay so much in taxes? It's because Arkansas state government requires too much revenue to function- it spends too much," Griffin wrote. "What does spending have to do with taxes? Everything."
Griffin believes transformation is the answer, calling for a "complete and total, top-to-bottom overhaul" of state government.
"Transformation is not about trimming a few government agencies and programs," he wrote. "To the contrary, it is about rethinking and modernizing state government over a period of years, allowing for tax dollars to be spent where they are most needed and making sure our hard-working state employees have the tools they need to do their jobs."
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