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Arkansas Panel Endorses Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Effort To Cut Top Income Tax Rate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to cut the state’s top income tax rate is heading to a vote in the state Senate after the $9...

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to cut the state's top income tax rate is heading to a vote in the state Senate after the $97 million plan easily won the endorsement of a legislative panel on Monday.

The Senate Revenue and Tax Committee approved on a voice vote the Republican governor's proposal to cut the state's top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent over the next two years. Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang, the panel's chairman and a sponsor of the tax cut measure, said he expected to take it before the majority GOP Senate on Tuesday.

The proposal will need three-fourths support from both chambers of the Legislature.

"I know better than to say that I have three-quarters of the vote locked up," Dismang told reporters. "I feel confident where we are in the numbers with positive feedback from what I believe to be enough members to pass the bill with three quarters, but anything can change."

Hutchinson's initial tax cut plan would have cost the state $192 million when fully implemented, but the governor last week reworked his proposal after finance officials said it would raise taxes for some residents.

The proposal faces resistance from Democrats who say the tax cut's benefits are skewed too much toward higher earners and who are worried about the impact the revenue loss will have on Arkansas' budget.

The top Democrat in the Senate, who sits on the tax committee, didn't vote on the proposal Monday and said he remains undecided about the plan.

"I've got a lot of unanswered questions that I'm waiting for them (to answer)," Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram said.