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Let's be frank and right up front with this request:

Please, please will the 16-members of the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force refuse to place "triggers" on future tax cuts based in the Revenue Stabilization Act.

In common English, the panel might consider some kind of sliding scale or incentive to reduce state income taxes -- if -- and that is always a big -- if -- economic conditions allow a tax cut.

In other words.

It might happen. Or it certainly might NOT happen.

Triggers on bills with economic consequences are bad news. A slight dip in the farm markets (due to storms, floods, etc.,) or a dip in the housing market (something from Washington, D.C., that we Arkie's have little or no control over) and down triggers to tax breaks go away.

Triggers on tax incentives are also hard indicators that the Legislature today may be fooling the public into believing there is a benefit coming -- which, sadly, may not come as quickly or as forcefully as warranted.

And these tax triggers don't often get deployed quickly and is somewhat of a mess to have to pull together a budget for a biennium as one would expect. Now the members of the General Assembly who want to meet in a Regular Session (odd numbered years) and a Fiscal Session (even numbered year) will like "triggers."

That just means that the Arkansas General Assembly needs to meet every year to ensure the correct operation of the state -- and thus -- the taxes collected from us taxpayers will cover the expenses of the government.

Remember a reader, in Arkansas, unlike Washington, D.C., there is no deficit spending.

Arkansas' taxes are not without their critics. But unlike Washington, D.C., at present the Legislature is not bankrupting your children's future to China or some other nation for economic support.

But that may be the best reason for no "triggers" in the tax code.

A "trigger" set for future tax reductions by this Legislature and its current membership might, just might, derail a use for the additional tax monies available in a good, booming economic year.

Suppose if the Arkansas Department of Administration and Finance can predict that the inflow of state revenues from taxes would eclipse the planned spending so a "trigger" is activated to lower state taxes in a year ahead. But, things change.

So the lower tax rate is a done deal, set by the "trigger" of last year and to be collected this year, yet the state has more needs for more tax monies -- but no monies are available until the "trigger" year is released and new taxes are assessed.

A "trigger" provision in a state tax code might inadvertently lead to higher taxes than intended by previous legislative bodies.

And remember the bottom line on our own state Constitution: Arkansas will have a balanced budget.

For that in times like these when the roar of the legislative crowd is to reduce the size of state government, services and taxes might actually drag us back farther from the place where programs need to be in today's economic world.

Would these triggers harm higher education, the state medical school, and the services from the health department? No one is real sure.

But the panel and its members are sure of one thing: These "triggers" sure do sound nice as the political winds of 2018 are howling.

We have until September 1 to see what they propose.

Let's be sure and tell them that "triggers" just don't work.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylontrice@yahoo.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 05/16/2018

Print Headline: Reject 'triggers' on planned tax cuts as unstable

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