Senate

August 10, 2022

 

Griffin Senate will come to order. Senator Clark. Senator Clark, you wish to be recognized? 

 

Clark Yes, I’d like to ask for leave for Senator Rapert. 

 

Griffin Without objection. Madam Secretary, please call the roll. 

 

 [All present except Rapert]

 

Griffin Everyone please rise, including those in the gallery. Senator Fulfer is going to lead us in a word of prayer. 

 

Fulfer Let us pray. Father, we thank you for this day, for all of your many blessings. And I pray that you would be with us today, Lord, as we meet on behalf of the people of the State of Arkansas. Lord, you said that we have not because we ask not. So we are asking for wisdom today, and we know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, according to your word. So I pray for wisdom today and for perseverance that we would do the right thing above all else. And I pray that you would be with us over these next few moments. We ask this in your Son’s precious and mighty name, and all God’s people said amen. 

 

[Pledge of Allegiance] 

 

Griffin I want to first recognize Senator Gilmore’s nephews, Gabriel and Christian, in the back. Welcome. And I also want to recognize Neil Dogra of Little Rock, who is interning for me, also in the back. Welcome, Neil. Senator Dismang, do you wish to be recognized? Okay, ready to start the business agenda. SB 1. 

 

Secretary Senate Bill 1 by Senator Dismang. To reduce Arkansas income taxes, to adopt federal law on depreciation and expensing of property, to create an income tax credit for certain taxpayers, and to declare an emergency. 

 

Griffin Senator Dismang. 

 

Dismang Thank you. Members, I’d like to say this bill does three things. The first thing it’s going to do is establish a one time credit of $150 per payer. That’s going to be $300 for married filing joint return. And, again, that is going to be effective January 1, 2022, and only for the calendar year 2022 or tax year 2022. What that’s going to do is require a change in the withholding tables of the state of Arkansas, which means that for the remaining months of the calendar year– so let’s just say it’s fully implemented as of October 1st. Then that $150 will be realized by increasing the take home pay, decreasing the amount of Arkansas income tax in each employee’s paycheck. The second thing that it does is it fast forwards what we had already set in motion for our income taxes here in the state of Arkansas. As you’ll remember, we wanted to make sure that we prioritized low and middle income tax cuts in the state. And in fact, we passed about $160 million worth of tax cuts for low and middle income earners here in the state. That was effective on January 1, 2022. What this does, it takes the other items that we had already passed, we’ve already agreed to, and fast forwards that to January 1, 2022. Also, again, the same impact is going to be had for those earners. It will automatically change the withholding tables in the state of Arkansas, which will allow more money to be taken home by our working folks. The third thing it does is the Section 179 depreciation. Currently, in the State of Arkansas, we have not conformed to the increase that the feds have put in place for Section 179. And for those that do not know, what that means is, let’s just say we buy a piece of equipment in a business. Typically that’s got what the IRS and DFA says is a useful life of five years, which means you would have to take a fifth essentially of the value of that property as an expense over five years. The IRS and the state of Arkansas at one time said you could deduct up to $25,000 of that equipment price immediately. Over time, the feds have drastically bumped that up, but we have kept the same level of $25,000. This puts us in line, just adds conformity and it is actually something that’s encouraged by the IRS or the feds. And so, again, it will provide relief to our small business owners around the state. With that, I would be happy to take any questions. 

 

Griffin Questions? Anyone wish to speak against? Senator Ingram’s recognized to speak against the bill. 

 

Ingram Thank you. I sort of feel like Al Pacino in Godfather 3. Just when you think it’s time to leave, they keep dragging you back in. But I want to talk a little bit about this bill and maybe give you some things to, to think about. This session’s obviously about priorities. The governor and the Republican leadership has chosen a tax cut as the priority. The thing that makes me scratch my head is, you know, we’ve got enough money to do all of these things. We’ve got enough money to do tax cuts. We’ve got enough money to give teachers salary raises. But we’ve chosen to go down the road of tax cuts. And it has brought on some real, I fear, unintended consequences. Because of the talk of a salary increase for teachers, I think it spurred some actions through ALC that dealt with ESSER funds that I think that there’s very, going to be very questionable. It will be, I believe, challenged. And I think that is a direct response to, ultimately, the tax cuts. In committee yesterday– and I want to say, forget about anything else, we took ARPA funds, about $1.8 billion. And written into those ARPA funds were rules and regulations. We agreed to it. We got the money. Now we want to try to change the rules and regulations. I know I’ve borrowed money at banks and been two years down the road on equipment payments and wish I could alter the terms that I had accepted the money under. But that is not allowed, nor is it ethical, in my opinion. So it leaves us– I asked yesterday in committee what the vulnerability, because we’ve all heard and are all aware that there is a chance that we could lose our ARPA funds. I think when leadership met with the governor, there was the mention at that point that it was a minimal amount of money that would be in jeopardy. And at that time, I think that minimal amount was about $80 million, about 10% of the remaining money of the ARPA funds. And then it came back that there was the potential that the remaining $800 or $900 million could be in jeopardy. Why would that be? Well, I want to read what the rule that the lawsuit is over, as I’m sure all of you all are aware, are aware, there are a number of states that are challenging the ability of the feds to enforce the clawback regulation. In Arizona, one is going on. It’s going to be heard in September. The one that Arkansas is a party to is one with, I think, Alabama and Kentucky. And it’s going to be heard in Atlanta in September. Now, we have been told that we couldn’t have teacher raises until an adequacy study was going to be completed before the end of the year. But yet we’re getting ready to take the chance of losing ARPA funds, and there’s going to be oral hearings next month regarding whether this is legal or not. Now, here is the, the section that, that, that were in the regulations that dealt with the ARPA funds. And it says, “a state or territory shall not use the funds provided under this section or transferred pursuant to section 603c4 to either directly or indirectly offset a reduction in the net, net tax revenue of such state or territory resulting from a change in law, regulation or administrative interpretation during the covered period that reduces any tax by providing for a reduction in a rate, a rebate, a deduction, a credit or otherwise delays the imposition of any tax or tax increase.” Now, this deals with income tax cuts. A number of the states met the guidelines. Tennessee and Virginia enacted legislation that temporarily and permanently exempted groceries from state sales tax. Florida and Georgia passed temporary gasoline tax suspensions. Florida and Tennessee also created additional sales tax holidays. One time payments represented the most popular form of utilizing and not running afoul of ARPA fund. As 11 states, including Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, gave one time rebates to its eligible filers. So I guess my point is why would we risk losing $800 or $900 million in ARPA funds that will be used to fix infrastructure problems that we’ve struggled with for years? That $900 million can go a long way in providing broadband for the rest of this state and rural Arkansas that doesn’t have it. If you’ve got rural areas in your district– and everybody here does, save for maybe one or two– water and sewer is a major issue. Why would we jeopardize that to vote on this now instead of waiting until we know for sure the impact? Now, when this was first talked about between the governor and leadership, what I read in the paper and was, well, we will just in order to avoid the clawback, we will just suspend ARPA money and we won’t spend it so that it won’t affect us, that we’ll have the money to pay back to the federal government the $800 or $900 million if we lose in court. Now, folks, that’s a bad bet. If we do that, that impacts a couple of things. One, why would we jeopardize $900 million in ARPA funds for a $500 million tax cut in year one, $750 million over three years? But more importantly, I think that each one of us needs to ask the question, are we going to suspend the ARPA money and its use until it’s determined whether there’s going to be a clawback? And if we say, yes, then that tells you that there is some concern– why should we pass this tax cut? If we say no, we’re going to let it go, then we’re pushing all our chips into the middle of the table and making a big, big bet that we’re not going to have to repay that if, if this ruling goes against us. So I’ve just always thought that caution is the best policy in government. You know, we’ve worked hard over the number of years to have this surplus. It’s something the state has never experienced. And I agreed with Senator Hickey and others last year, the $1.2 billion that we put into the catastrophic fund to protect the state against a downturn. We have RSA that protects us against a downturn. We have a $1.6 billion surplus in this past year’s budget. We have $648 million in educational trust funds. Now, folks, we’ve got the money to fix a lot of problems for this state. And tax cuts are important. The section 179 thing that Senator Dismang’s got, dead on. That’ll help, that’ll help small business tremendously. But we can raise teacher salaries. We can have the money for broadband. We can have the money for water and sewer. But by passing this with that question out there that this money could be clawed back, we’re making a big bet and a big gamble on the future of the state of Arkansas when if we waited, we could fix all of it. Thank you. 

 

Griffin Does anybody wish to speak in favor? Anybody wish– Senator Elliott wishes to be recognized against. And while you’re coming down, I’m going to recognize Senator Flowers for a quick request. 

 

Flowers Thank you. Mr. President. I would like to request leave for Senator Leding. 

 

Griffin Without objection. Senator Elliott.

 

Elliott Thank you. I wasn’t quite ready, so I need to swallow. So sorry about that. Members, good morning. And I will fully admit before I get started, of course, you’ve heard me say this before. But, of course, we’ve been at this time before where we were making a choice about who will and what will be our priorities in our state. When I was growing up in this great country called America and in this great state called Arkansas, one of the things we were taught time and time again is that you do what’s best for everybody, and you certainly do what’s best for those who are on the lower rungs of life. I thought that was good teaching. It’s something I took to heart. It’s something that I brought to this work here at the legislature. When we originally instituted the tax, the tax breaks, I asked us to think about if we are using our resources in a way that’s going to lift up everybody. It didn’t matter. We were going to pass it anyway. But I will continue to ask this question. Are we? Because I have not heard one peep from anybody who was, who are in the higher brackets of the economy in our state. Not one person has asked me or tried to make a case to me that this is something that they need. Not one business has done so. And what occurs to me is and what bothers me so much is they don’t have to. We just do it for them. And we come here and we practically beg to do the things we need to do to lift up everybody in this state. Now, somebody is going to probably come back and say, this is good for the economy, it’s good for everybody. But nobody can show me a single study. And I have asked this question, even in the Revenue and Tax Committee. Where is the study? Where’s the research that says something like this, the bill that we’re going to pass, lifts all boats. And then I would anticipate somebody is going to come back and say, well, we had a tax break for those in the lower brackets and we have done some collapsing of brackets that’s going to benefit everybody. That may be true, but it’s not remotely close to what we could do if we chose to. Because all of these things I learned as a child in my state about lifting up everybody, we’re not doing it because if folks in business were hurting and actually needed this tax break, if the folks who are the wealthiest in the state actually needed this tax break, I guarantee you we would have heard about it. We’re making a choice here to try to convince people we’re doing something that’s going to lift everybody up. Yet there is, there is not a single university study, a single independent study that has supported in all these years this notion, some of which is about trickle down economics. We’re choosing to do this when we’re going to start school and not have teachers. When we start school, we will have practically in some cases, especially in the areas where people have the hardest time having a home, living someplace that is not a food desert, having decent roads. I was in a town in southeast Arkansas recently where there were holes in the, in the streets that were so big they actually had big blue barrels in the holes so that I didn’t accidentally and other people didn’t accidentally lose their cars in those holes. Now, you could say that’s the county’s business all you want to, and they should take care of that. But there are two problems with that. One is they don’t have the money to do it. The second one is we do, but we’re choosing to do something else. But these are actual people who have to have their kids walk down the streets and walk around vertical tunnels so they don’t lose their kids. So we will have these towns, these roads continue to exist, I suppose, while we make the choice to help those that are most well off. I don’t know what your eyesight must be like if you are not real clear about what a crisis we have for homelessness in this state. That is all over our state. You cannot come to an intersection, especially on an interstate or a busy highway, where there are not people there begging you to give them a dollar. And you could say all kind of things about them, and some of you do. They’re lazy. They don’t want to work. Well, what would it take for you to do that? Unless you think you are incrementally and numbers in the gazillions better than those people are who get reduced to beg for a dollar and get a lecture or you say, Oh, come with me, I won’t give you any money, come with me and I’ll feed you. Okay, that’s a good option. But that is a meal. A meal. Are you really that much better off than they are as a human being that they chose that way out but you would  not if they just had a handout? Are you? And I hope your answer is, I’m no better than they are. I would not make that choice to debase myself, to ask somebody who is going to make me feel as if I’m not human, I wouldn’t ask them for a dollar. But I’m so desperate I have to ask. And we have schools getting ready to start where we are so desperate we are trying to get a raise for teachers support personnel. And we can’t get it. Can’t get money for housing and for homelessness by people who live in the finest homes in the state, about to do pretty doggone well. I would like you to consider that when we say we can’t do something, all we’re doing is making excuses. And I want to center on this, lastly. Every single one of you in here, you are here not only, but largely because of what people did for you in public schools. This state is never going to be what it could be and should be if we keep making excuses when we have the money and we have it largely because of COVID. I mean, we’ve done well on our own. But the money we have, we have because of COVID. And a lot of the money that we’re so proud of in our big surplus is because the people who are not positioned the way we are, they got money and they had to spend it. It went into these coffers from which we are going to draw to do the best for those who are the wealthiest in our state. You need to think about this. You don’t have to– this is not something that you have to think about real hard to know where the money is coming from and who spent the money so that the taxes that we have collected are there for the rest of us to use for ourselves. Unlike many of us, they didn’t have the choice of, I’m going to invest it over here. They didn’t have the choice of, I don’t have to spend it, I’m going to save it. No, they spent it. And it’s going directly into our pockets because they had to spend what they had. And here we don’t do what’s best for them. Something is not right about this, and you know what it is. It must be awfully nice to get up and walk down here today and know you are going to get your way. Must be awfully nice. But I tell you, I hear from people time and time again, begging for us to do something different and they don’t. And, yeah, I know it’s time to stop talking about it. I know it’s tiring to hear about it, but I really just don’t care if you’re ready to move on. But I do care about what we are about to do when we do move on. And lastly, I want the teachers, the parents, the students, support personnel to know this. There is nothing, there is nothing that keeps us from putting into place the salary proposals that have been set forth for our schools. There is nothing. I’ve served on the adequacy committee since we started having adequacy committees. I know we could do what’s been asking us to do and continue to do our work. We did it yesterday when we decided we needed to have the 50 million for safe schools. We did it yesterday. We could have stood up and said, Oh, no, no, no, no, let’s wait, let’s wait before we do this, because the adequacy study is where we ought to look at for safety. That’s dealing with our– we didn’t do that yesterday, did we? We passed it. We made no excuses. We passed it. We don’t have to do it because the better thing to do, go ahead and make sure we are competitive in our region. We’re not competitive with a single state in our region. And yet we want to wait when we have the money, wait for school to start. And what are folks supposed to do when school’s starting? All we would have to do, go ahead, pass laws, pass the bill, appropriate the money, and give our children a fighting chance and then get back to doing that so important work in adequacy because it is. And all you got to do is you got a running start. Go from there. That’s all it takes. Because once in our state, in our country, we said we would do the best for everybody. Who, who needs us to do the best for everybody more than our kids? Who than the people who don’t have a home tonight, than the people who live in food deserts where we have come up with the excuse because it benefits the well-to-do, oh, my gosh, we’re going to put a Family Dollar here for you, we’re going to put a dollar store here for you, and that’s what you’re going to have. And this bill that we’re passing this what the well to do will have. Thank you, colleagues. 

 

Griffin Anyone in favor? Senator Tucker, against. Senator Clark. Did you–

 

Clark On. 

 

Griffin Are you– okay. You can– you want to go now, Senator Clark? Okay. Senator Clarke Tucker will go now. Senator Alan Clark will go next. 

 

Tucker I’ll be quick. I just– there’s two points that I think should be part of this discussion in addition to what Senators Ingram and Elliott have said. The first is that there’s been a lot of conversation in recent years about the historic tax cuts that we’ve made, and that’s factually true. But there’s been a piece that I think really needs to be part of the discussion, which should be a centerpiece of tax reform, and that’s our, our tax brackets. They largely remained unchanged from the time they were first created when Dale Bumpers was governor in the early 1970s. And the disparity has been exacerbated by the tax cuts in recent years. And after today– this is a point that I think should be centered in this conversation– after today, someone who earns $24,300 per year in Arkansas will pay the same top tax rate as someone who earns $100 million in Arkansas. That means a starting teacher who earns $36,000 per year will pay the same top tax rate as someone who earns $100 million per year. Or a starting bus driver. Or a cafeteria worker at a school who earns $25,000 per year will pay the same top tax rate as someone who earns $100 million per year. That’s, that’s not right, in my opinion. That’s the first point. The second point is, and I don’t want to repeat what Senator Elliott said, but we have people in our state who are suffering. She went through the list. There was another study that came out just the other day that said Arkansas ranks 43rd in the country for child welfare. Over one in five kids in Arkansas live in poverty. We have people out there who are suffering and we could pass this tax cut and make a real difference in these people’s lives and alleviate their suffering. Now, I agree with Senator Elliott. I don’t think this tax cut will really make any difference in the people’s lives that I’m talking about that are suffering. But on the other hand, the flipside of that– and this is the second point that I wanted to make– the flip side of that is for the top earners in Arkansas, the top 10% or so who roughly who earn $100,000 per year or more, I think their lives would be much better and their economic prospects would be much better if they were creating jobs in a state where people don’t live in poverty, where people are well-educated and where they’re healthy and trained and ready to work. And that would actually make a bigger difference in their lives and in their economic prospects than if their top tax rate were 4.9% or 5.1%. So I think we can be smarter about the investments that we make. And for those reasons, I’ll be voting no. That’s what I wanted to add. Thank you. 

 

GriffinThank you, Senator. Senator Clark is going to speak on. And then Senator Chesterfield against. Senator Clark on the bill. 

 

Clark Thank you, Governor, colleagues. Well, I believe that all Arkansans should pay the same income tax rate. That’s our goal. And that would be zero to compete with a couple other states around us to bring the jobs and industry here to lift up our people. I am proud of the responsible tax cuts that this legislature has made over the 10 years that I’ve been here in this governor and at the same time have taken care of problems that have not been taken care of before. We do have to address teachers’ pay. I come from a family where the main breadwinner was a teacher. We have been firmly in the middle of the pack in the south east in my time here until recently. And with COVID, inflation, and some other states realizing they needed to make changes, all of the sudden we have dropped down to 46th. And make no doubt about it in this legislative session, we have to address that and we have to address it seriously. The depreciation part of the tax cut is a no brainer. The tax cut in itself is easy to support. It’s the risk that Senator Ingram pointed out that’s not worth it. I have told my constituents as I’ve spoke across the district the past few weeks, when it comes to the floor, I’m going to vote for it. Like I said, I think the tax cut’s a good thing. I think the risk as a businessman makes no sense whatsoever. I’ve said that behind closed doors and I’m saying it here. We’re going to do it, so we’re going to do it. But why we would risk that money to accelerate it makes no sense to me.

 

Griffin Senator Chesterfield against. 

 

Chesterfield Thank you, Mr. President. Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I shall be brief. You’ve heard all of the reasons. The thing that I find most egregious is the $150 and the $300 that are non occurring for those who are poor. It is like throwing us who don’t have a lot of money a bone and saying you are only going to get to nibble on it once and it’s not going to come back again. You all know that we are last in this, in this region in education funding. You know that. You also know that those, those individuals who are the poorest of us won’t get the refund in a reoccurring manner. $150. Refused to send folks some money directly to their pocketbooks. You say you’re going to see it on your taxes. A lot of folks don’t file taxes because they don’t make enough money. I just think it’s very, very egregious that we would only do this once, $150 and the $300. It seems to me we really, really are not as concerned as we ought to be about those who are the least among us economically. And whatsoever you do to the least of these, you have done it unto him. Thank you. 

 

Griffin Anybody in favor? Against? Senator Dismang. 

 

Dismang Thank you. I’d like to just try to cover a couple of things, first, for a little bit of confusion I think’s in the room. Number one, it was kind of a question if what we’re doing is legal. There is no question about the legality of passing tax cuts in the state of Arkansas. And that was in reference to the ARPA and a potential clawback for those funds if we cut taxes. And I think Senator Ingram actually did it best when he read from the, you know, the rules, essentially, that you cannot use the funds themselves to directly or indirectly cut taxes in the state of Arkansas. I don’t think there is a member in this room that has been more critical or tried to provide more oversight to DFA than I have. I mean, raise your hand if you think you have. And so when that initially came out, I think I reviewed that about as thoroughly as anybody in this room. And I feel fairly confident– and to his point, we’ll know for certain September– that there will be no clawback. The reason, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves of why we’re able to cut these taxes, is because of the inflation that we’re experiencing here in the state of Arkansas. That is driving up our revenues and is hurting our people back home, and we should return some of it back to the taxpayers. And so that would be my comments on ARPA. And again, I think Senator Ingram might be able to share that with others in the room to really– you can take a look at it. I think it explicitly says to use the funds directly or indirectly, which we are not. Second, it was said that this is taking away from our surplus. There is nothing in this bill that touches the surplus. I’m going to say it one more time, because I’ve heard it so many times and I’m surprised every time I do. There is nothing in this bill that is touching surplus. There will be a bill later that you’ll be asked to vote on in regards to the $50 million for school safety that will touch the surplus. But this does not. When we come back into the next regular session, that surplus will still exist. It will be there to shore up if something happens and the economy continues on the trajectory that it is. But we do have a back up because we were diligent in creating it and even more diligent in not spending it. And I think that’s being prudent. One thing I do want to make sure we understand, too, is that everything we’re doing is only having a temporary impact on general revenue in the state of Arkansas. So what does that mean? Number one, the Section 179 expense, that is something that will prove itself out and it will reconcile itself within five years. It is a temporary change to general revenue. There will be an initial bump hit in the first and it will even itself out over the next five years till there is no future impact on general revenue. Second, as far as the $150 to $300, again, that’s temporary. To Senator Chesterfield’s point, that is temporary. It is for this existing year because we felt like the relief needed to be provided, and it will be realized over the remaining months of this calendar year and not into the future. And third, as far as temporary and as far as accelerating the tax cuts we have, those are going to take place regardless of our action today. We did, Senator Chesterfield, prioritize low and middle income earners in the state of Arkansas. We put them at the front of the line. Absolutely put them in front. Because their tax cuts took effect on January 1, 2022, to the tune of $160 million worth of cuts. We eliminated taxes for 100,000 Arkansans when we did that and front loaded that relief to January 1, 2022. And when we adopt this, hopefully, with passage of $150 to $300, we will eliminate taxes for another 95,000 Arkansans for the year 2022. I think that matters. In regards to other programs here in the state, I tried to not take offense, if I’m going to be honest. I have had a conversation about homelessness in the state of Arkansas recently, and a very extensive one with Senator Hester, and how we need to look at some other successes that other states were having, in particular Utah, and replicate those here in the state of Arkansas. That’s something I’m committed to. Teachers pay, also something I’m committed to. Because as long as we are prioritizing fieldhouses and football fields more than we are teachers, we’ve got a problem. And that needs to be corrected. And that’s part of a much bigger conversation that needs to be had here in the state of Arkansas. And I plan on having it. And I hope you join me. But again, I appreciate the time and I appreciate the debate and I appreciate the points. Senator Ingram, you know about as well as anyone how important it is that we’re competitive with our neighbors. I’m sure that you experience every day the business issues and the decisions that are made by living in a town, a border town with a state that does not have income tax. The consequences are real. This doesn’t get us to zero. But this does, Senator Elliott, take us to a point of being a touch more competitive. With that, I’m closed for the bill and I appreciate your time and a good vote. 

 

Griffin It’s up to the Senator. The senator’s closed. 

 

Dismang Sure. 

 

Griffin The senator will take questions. 

 

Ingram If it’s so clear cut that it’s legal for us to cut taxes and not have claw backs on the ARPA money, then why are we in litigation? Are we just wasting money out of the Attorney General’s office if they join in this lawsuit? 

 

Dismang My understanding in looking at it is, number one, it’s already been ruled against, the federal government, in, in one jurisdiction. Again, I’m not an attorney. This is not my, my deal. But I think the reading is fairly plain. I think DFA did a good job outlining their reasons why they don’t think that we are. And I would just go back to we are not directly or indirectly using these funds to cut taxes. These taxes are able to be cut because of the inflation that we’re experiencing. Now, if you want to say that the inflation was indirectly, you know, created the situation that we’re in and the priorities coming out of D.C., I suppose you could do that. But I do not believe that the, just the, the clear reading of the rule that we would be in violation, personally. 

 

Griffin Okay. We have a pair at the desk. Madam Secretary, is that correct? 

 

Secretary Yes, sir. 

 

Griffin And this requires 18 votes, and it has an emergency clause as well. Madam Secretary, please call the roll. 

 

Secretary [Paired votes] Senator Rapert is yea. Senator Tucker, nay. 

 

[Yes: Ballinger, Beckham, Bledsoe, Caldwell, Clark, Davis, Dismang, English, Flippo, Fulfer, Garner, Gilmore, Hammer, Hendren, Hester, Hickey, Hill, Irvin, B Johnson, M Johnson, Pitsch, Rapert, Rice, Sample, Stubblefield, Sturch, Sullivan, Teague, Wallace;

 

No: Chesterfield, Elliott, Flowers, Ingram, Tucker 

 

Leave: Leding]

 

Griffin Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 29 yeas, 5 nays. The bill is passed. The emergency clause is adopted. Moving from the business agenda to the budget calendar, Senator Dismang is once again recognized. 

 

Secretary Senate Bill 2 by Senators Irvin et al. An Act for the Department of Education, School Safety Grants Appropriation and School Safety Set-aside or contingency vote 3/5 set aside for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

 

Griffin Senator Dismang.

 

Dismang We had a pretty decent debate about this in Joint Budget yesterday. This sets aside $50 million in restricted reserve account to release that funds as a 3/5 vote. As you all are well aware, if you attended the budget meeting, we are not at a place that we know what the details of this program is going to look like. We do believe that school safety is a priority. And so while we were in session, there was a, you know, I think hopefully there will be an agreement to set aside money so that when that plan is developed, it can be released to provide help to our school districts. With that, I’d be happy to take any questions. 

 

Griffin Any questions? Anyone wish to speak against, for? The senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? You do object to rolling the vote? Please call the roll, Madam Secretary.

 

[Yes: Ballinger, Beckham, Bledsoe, Caldwell, Clark, Davis, Dismang, English, Flippo, Fulfer, Garner, Gilmore, Hammer, Hendren, Hester, Hickey, Hill, Ingram, Irvin, B Johnson, M Johnson, Pitsch, Rice, Sample, Stubblefield, Sturch, Sullivan, Teague, Tucker, Wallace; 

No: Chesterfield; 

Present: Elliott, Flowers; 

Leave: Leding, Rapert]

 

Griffin Senator Garner’s aye. Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 30 yeas, 1 nay. The bill is passed. The emergency clause is adopted. Transmit to the House. Senator Sample, do you wish to be recognized? Senator Sample.

 

Sample Senate Revenue and Tax will meet 15 minutes after adjournment. 

 

Griffin In the items at the desk? 

 

Secretary Yes, sir. House Bill 1002 by Representative Jett, et al. To reduce Arkansas income taxes, to adopt federal law on depreciation and expensing of property, to create an income tax credit in certain taxpayers, and to declare an emergency. House Bill 1002. 

 

Griffin Revenue and Tax. Anything else? Any other announcements? Senator Pitsch? 

 

Pitsch Several of us are wondering when we might adjourn again– or come together again. 

 

Griffin I’m going to tell you. Just a sec. Anything else? The Senate’s adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow. Despite my objection.