A chortling Beebe-ite called me early today. No wonder. He'd read the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Mike Beebe, depicted by his Republican opponent last year as a unrepentant tax-and-spender, is hailed as a tax cutter, a model for Democrats everywhere. And a fellow named Mike Huckabee, desperately trying to shake the big-tax label being slapped on him regularly by the Club for Growth, gets the back of the WSJ's influential-with-conservative-Republicans hand. 'Tis rich.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe may not be a man from Hope, but the newly elected Democrat is becoming a voice for tax relief within his party.
Last year he campaigned on cutting in half his state's 6% sales tax on groceries. Last week he made good on the promise by striking a deal with a reluctant Democratic legislature. His compromise also repeals income taxes on the poor and cuts sales taxes that manufacturers pay on their utility bills. All told, taxpayers will save $319 million over two years, or what the Governor calls "the largest tax decrease in the history of the state."
The Arkansas Policy Foundation estimates that a family of four will save $234 a year on grocery bills alone, a significant savings in a state where the average taxpayer shells out $3,088 a year in state and local taxes. And it's all the better that the Governor also resisted the legislature's impulse to lard up the state's tax code with tax credits.
The Tax Foundation reports that Arkansas is the 27th most taxed state in the nation with a heavier tax burden than neighboring Texas and Tennessee, neither of which has an income tax and rank 44th and 47th. The state is expected to have an $840 million surplus this year and could therefore afford additional cuts in its 6% general sales tax and 7% tax on income over $30,100. The state's last Governor -- potential Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee -- is best known for losing 100 pounds while in office. That Mr. Beebe is turning his attention instead to curbing the state's appetite is a sign of progress.
James Boulder, a letter to the editor is required. Pronto.