The Arkansas 93rd General Assembly convened last week, and Friday (Jan 15, 2021) Governor Asa Hutchinson gave a speech at the Capitol that talked about the goals that he shared with legislators back in his State of the State address. Below is that address word for word, or if you prefer there is a link to the Governor's website to listen to the speech in audio form.

I expect legislation that will boost our economy from tax cuts to reduced regulations. We need laws that will assure that our police officers have the highest standards, and are fully trained, funded, and supported. We also want laws to increase accountability and oversight.

Two years ago, legislators raised the pay of our dedicated public-school teachers. I support another round of pay increases. My goal is to raise average teacher salaries by $2,000 over the next two years, and I expect there will be great legislative support for this effort.

During my time in office, we have become a national leader with our computer science initiative. But we can’t relax in our success. This year, I am asking the general assembly to support legislation that will require all students to take at least one computer science course in order to graduate, and to require all schools to employee at least one certified computer science teacher. We will have to increase the training of our teachers even more, but we are ready to do it because this will give our young people even greater opportunities right here in Arkansas.

During each regular session while I have been governor, we have lowered taxes on hard-working Arkansans. As a result, we have moved $800 million from the government bank account into the hands of Arkansans.

This session, I am asking for two specific tax cuts. I would like to reduce the sales tax on used cars that sell between $4,000 and $10,000. The tax would be reduced from 6.5 percent to 3.5 percent. This would give relief to thousands of Arkansans who depend upon used vehicles for getting to work and to school.

To pay for tax cuts, we need to continue to grow our economy and bring people to Arkansas. To help with that goal, I am recommending a second tax cut. And that is that we lower our tax rate for new residents to 4.9 percent for the first five years they live in Arkansas. That will attract new Arkansans, who will spend money and pay taxes, and companies that will create jobs and contribute to our economy.

This year the individual income tax rate has been reduced to 5.9 percent, and I hope that within the next five years, Arkansas will reduce the rate to 4.9 percent for all residents.

We are entering 2021 with a balanced budget, a strong economy, and the strength of Arkansans to pull through these tough days. As I established my legislative goals for the 93rd General Assembly, I am mindful that the most urgent task is to respond and recover from the pandemic and to do everything needed to get our vaccines out to everyone in need.

Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.




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