Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Balking on Eliminating Grocery Tax

We just had an election where candidates for both parties ran on eliminating the state sales tax on groceries. I argued that if Beebe and company won you would never see that money. Candidate Beebe said he would rather "under-promise and over-deliver."

I liked that line. It sounded good and was smart politics. Saying you will "over-deliver" gives hints of a committment without ever actually making one. Now people are waiting on Beebe et al to "over deliver" on the non-committment to "phase out" the grocery tax, "revenues permitting". With over $800 million in surplus, if revenues don't permit now then they never will. The problem is that it seems Beebe is dangerously close to under-delivering even on his under-promising.

As for John Brummett and the rest of the liberal columnists who are now questioning some of Beebe's cozy ties with special intrests and his failure to push harder to repeal the grocery tax I can only say, "Then why did you shill for the guy nonstop the whole campaign? Please don't try and distance yourselves from him now, after you worked tirelessly to get him elected. He is your guy now, whether you like it or not."

State Rep. Benny Petrus, a house leader, says eliminating the grocery tax may not be the best way to help low income Arkansans. He leans more toward income tax relief. Rep. Horace Hardwick has proposed phasing out 4.5 cents of the six cents of the food tax over the next three years, and leaving on 1.5 cents which are "already committed", along with all of the local taxes on groceries. Somehow I don't think that is what the average voter thought they were getting when Governor elect Beebe talked of "phasing out the sales tax on food". In Benton County, sales taxes are nine percent, so even in the unlikely event that all of that "phasing out" actually happens we will still pay half of the sales tax on food items.

While I'd vote for Hardwick's bill if it was the best I could get, Speaker Petrus may have a point. With a surplus this high, they could, if they cared to, give us a tax break equal to eliminating the entire sales tax on food. A handy way to do this would be to give us a per-person exemption on income taxes that is closer to that of the other states. Currently, our personal income tax exemption in this state is among the lowest in the nation (a mere $20 tax credit). Giving us a $1,000 per person exemption would be a good way to get us the rest of that grocery tax money back, and put us more in the middle of the pack as far as having an equitable and family-friendly income tax structure goes.


Anonymous Mudbug said...

Here's how "we the people" get the food tax eliminated next week. Call your state senator and representative and ask them to pledge not to eat a lobbyist paid meal till the food tax is eliminated.

3:49 PM, December 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like that idea! But given that the state legislature is run by a bunch of socialists, I don't see that happening.
I knew that Beebe wouldn't have the spine to stand up to his own party to eliminate the grocery tax. None of the Dems that were elected, including Both Ways Beebe, ran an honest campaign. They tried to conceal their true liberal identities because they knew if they didn't, they'd never win. So now Beebe is backtracking on his campaign promise, however weak, to eliminate the grocery tax. I hope the people of Arkansas will pay attention the next 4 years and see exactly what they elected and make a change in 2010. But since Arkansas is 49th in education, thanks to liberal policies, I don't see that happening either.

3:59 PM, December 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like that idea! But given that the state legislature is run by a bunch of socialists

I'm sorry the discussion here is about Arkansas. We have one of the least "socialist" legislatures in the nation. Socialists don't reward trucking firms for defrauding the state out of the taxes and registration due on their trucks by slashing the tax when they get caught illegally registering in Oklahoma and get forced to play by the rules.

Socialists don't pass every tax break requested by big business.

Socialists don't go out of their way to do the barest minimum to stay in compliance with welfare, medicaid, medicare and school funding.

Socialists? You need to find a new dictionary if yours would consider that group socialists.

9:27 AM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, socialism includes Fascism. For example the Nazi party was actually the "National Socialists". It is a combination of big government and big business working together at the expense of the little guy. So yeah, our legislature is fairly socialist.

5:50 PM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:27, you need to find a new Democrat playbook. The tired old "tax cuts for the rich" ploy is getting rather tiresome rather quickly.

8:43 PM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:43, you need to read the paper or better yet read the laws being passed in this state.

The only thing getting tiresome is the repeated tax cuts being given to cheaters (the trucking industry), the TIF tax breaks so that out-of-state retailers can come compete with locally owned businesses without having to pay the same taxes that the locally owned businesses have paid for decades.

Here's a novel idea. If a business idea to develop a piece of property makes economic sense, put your money in it and do it instead of demanding and getting tax breaks from the government to make it more profitable. That's free enterprise capitalism and it is sadly missing from the tiresome Republican playbook.

9:04 PM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:43
You may want to learn about the law before speaking on it I know that is not the Democrat way but it usually helps. You accuse the legislature of helping truckers by letting them register in OK. The truth is it helps the state of AR to have them register there. Federal law says that the state that the truck is registered in has to pay all the other states that truck does business in a portion of the money. So you end up losing money to have the organization to pay all the other states and the federal government no longer gives highway money to states dependant on how many vehicles are registered it actually helps the taxpayers to not have truckers registered here. OK and MO have to write us checks for all our trucks that are registered out of state and we do not have to pay for the workers to manage it.

6:30 AM, December 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The state participates in the International Registration Plan and the money is just distributed as provided through the IRP.

The state was looking at a windfall in collections as the trucks were returned to base plate where they belonged and the trucking association stepped in to get the caps put on.

Sad thing is there were a lot of honest tractor-trailer owners out there who had paid the full sales tax on their equipment rather than cheat. The cheaters, unlike them didn't have to pay the full bill.

8:05 AM, December 22, 2006  

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