Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce / Associated Industries of Arkansas, says the business community’s response to a Biden executive order that mandates vaccines has been “subdued.” He also said an upcoming legislative term to reform the tax law should include changes to corporate tax.
Late last week, President Joe Biden issued a far-reaching executive order to require vaccines for employers with more than 100 employees, as well as federal employees and contractors and health workers. If you are not looking for a vaccine, you have to have a negative COVID-19 test every week. Zook said its members had mixed feelings about the rule.
“Some people call it a gross exaggeration and others say, ‘Well, that takes the heat away.’ So there is a mixed reaction, ”he said. “I think everyone is expecting a very quick decision from the courts as to whether the President has the authority to do this through OSHA as he is trying to do.”
Zook said he doesn’t expect his organizations to take a formal stance on the vaccine mandate.
“I don’t expect us to do that. Well, some of my colleagues, our colleagues across the country – the Texas Association of Business, for example – have already screamed, “Bloody murder, excess and too much and too far,” and so on. That may be representative, but I doubt it. I think most of us will wait for the court to decide because pounding the chest and pumping the chest at the end of the day doesn’t do much, ”said Zook.
Arkansas lawmakers return to the state capital later this month to consider redistribution by Congress. In addition to trying to thwart the Biden OSHA rule, lawmakers can also consider laws that address abortion and other issues. A special session is expected to follow after the extended regular session is completed. During the special session, lawmakers are expected to reform the state’s tax laws and decide on further spending on a budget surplus of nearly $ 1 billion.
Zook said his groups are helping lower the top tax rate in the state to make Arkansas more competitive with surrounding states. Neither Texas nor Tennessee have state income taxes. Governor Asa Hutchinson and lawmakers want to cut Arkansas’ top tax rate from 5.9% to just 5.5%. Other suggestions can also be considered.
Zook said the state chamber position did not make a specific suggestion, but he wanted to make Arkansas a “more competitive state” on taxes.
“We have the opportunity to further reduce income taxes. We will work hard to ensure that corporate taxes are recorded along with individual income taxes, ”he said. “To be clear, we have not yet taken a position on the end of the program. We just have to become more competitive. Let me put it this way. Lower would be more competitive. We don’t dream of letting it run out. But you know, corporate tax is much less predictable than individual income tax anyway, and it fluctuates. “
Net corporate tax grossed nearly $ 600 million for the most recent fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. Although they have been inconsistent in their monthly contributions to general revenue, they have averaged just over $ 400 million a year over the past decade.
You can see the full interview from Zook in the video below.