Arkansas truckers to save $4M with July 1 tax break
Arkansas Trucking Association President Lane Kidd said the industry deserves the tax break and that it makes the Arkansas trucking industry more competitive with other states.
By CHUCK BARTELS
The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A $4 million tax break for Arkansas truckers goes into effect on Monday with the start of the new fiscal year. And Gov. Mike Beebe still isn't happy about it.
The tax reduction on commercial vehicles was to have helped the freight industry offset a proposed diesel fuel tax increase for road repairs. The trucking lobby dropped its support of the diesel tax hike but the vehicle tax cut stayed on the books.
In the fiscal session earlier this year, the House tried to delay imposition of the tax break but was blocked by the Senate.
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"I think that's wrong. It was wrong when they did it, I still don't have a good justification or an answer for why they did that. It (the tax cut) is going to go into effect and it shouldn't and it's going to be harder to repeal once it's in effect," Beebe said before leaving on a trade mission to France.
"I was very disappointed. I worked for like 2-3 days twisting every arm I could twist over there and I couldn't get it done," he said.
Voters last year reauthorized a $575 million highway bond program, making the diesel tax increase unnecessary.
The $4 million the state will lose in revenue will come out of the budget for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.
The Arkansas Trucking Association said it yanked its support of the diesel tax increase after polling showed the proposal had little chance of success at the ballot box.
The House tried to put off imposition of the tax break until July 1, 2013, which would give legislators another crack at the bill in the regular session that starts in January. But that didn't the support it needed in the Senate.
State Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, said the inability to come to an agreement during the fiscal session "left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths."
"It just didn't end on a good note," Bookout said.
Bookout said he hopes the tax comes up again in the session that begins in January.
"I would hope that it would. I think we need some clarity on that issue, a better workable agreement that's fair to all sides," he said.
Arkansas Trucking Association President Lane Kidd, who didn't return calls seeking comment, said during the fiscal session that the tax break was part of the group's legislative package in 2011. He said the industry deserves the tax break and that it makes the Arkansas trucking industry more competitive with other states.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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