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Local senator attends meeting of state tax reform panel

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By John R. Schirmer
News-Leader staff

Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville was in Little Rock last week for the first meeting of the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force. He was named to the panel earlier this month. The task force met May 22.

“We adopted committee rules,” Teague said. Sen. Jim Hendren of Gravette and Rep. Lane Jean of Magnolia were named co-chairmen.

The next meeting will be June 7, when Teague expects members to talk about hiring a consultant. The task force has been charged with making Arkansas competitive with other states on tax matters. The 16-member group will recommend changes to the state tax code, and Teague said a consultant could be brought in to help.

The task force’s first report is due in December. “I don’t know if we can go through all that by then,” Teague said, hence the need for a consultant.

The final report is due in December 2018.

“My hope is to look at the income tax, sales tax and other taxes to see if there are ways to make the system more efficient. We’ll probably look at the remaining grocery sales tax,” Teague said. “We may talk about collecting a tax on internet sales. We may look at highway funding. There’s plenty to talk about.”

There are “lots of exemptions to the sales tax. Agricultural and industrial exemptions are a lot of money. I don’t see us messing with agriculture or hurting industry,” Teague said.

“I’m optimistic we’ll accomplish something. A consultant can show us what other states do and try to make us more attractive.”

Teague served on the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Education in the late 1990s. “I’ve looked at those records. We talked about funding education. I have the final exhibits from the commission.”

The tax reform task force was created by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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