Legislative leaders and Gov. Mike Beebe met with reporters today. You can watch the Beebe session above via Gerard's JustinTV link.
So far, I note that House Speaker Robert Moore has mentioned sales tax on Internet sales as a potential revenue source. This could be a great battle of the session. Walmart favors this, to level the playing field with Internet competitors who don't have stores in every state that create the "nexus" that requires sales tax collection. Many favor this on account of the simple unfairness of putting the sales tax on local merchants but not on Internet merchants who come in and undercut and harm in-state businesses. There is, naturally, a huge interest in preserving the advantage for those who have it. Some of the Tea Party insurgents won't favor a tax, even it is to help Arkansas small businesses. Many interesting dynamics to come on this debate. Gov. Beebe says he thinks Arkansas has done all it can do to comply with the federal law on taxing Internet sales. But he added that he thinks it's not fair to people with bricks and mortar in Arkansas to "be put at an economic advantage because someone can compete with them on the Internet and not pay taxes."
Everybody's talking a cut in the sales tax on used cars. Beginning to sound like that will happen at some level. But wait: Not if Beebe has a say. He doesn't think budget can accommodate that cut.
Tax "incentives" for economic development? What else could there possibly be to give away — we already offer a crazy scheme that favors multi-state corporations on the income tax; numerous sales tax exemptions; all manner of incentives and direct cash grants and low-interest finance.
Highways. Legislators defer here to the governor's leadership, though you can tell they're aching to build some roads if a "revenue stream" can be identified. In other words, is there a tax the people will swallow? Beebe said he'd sign a highway tax if one were to be passed and it was "reasonable," but he said he thought the prospect "unlikely."