Bob Ballinger and other Tea Partiers file alternative bill exempting military retirement benefits | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bob Ballinger and other Tea Partiers file alternative bill exempting military retirement benefits

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 5:42 PM

click to enlarge Rep. Bob Ballinger (right) - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Rep. Bob Ballinger (right)

Today Rep. Bob Ballinger and other right-wing Republicans filed an alternative bill to create a tax exemption for military retirement benefits.

They're unhappy with Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal, which passed the House today; they support the exemption, but they don't like that the bill includes other tax increases (and they don't like that the governor has larded it up with an irrelevant slate of policies that have nothing to do with military retirement benefits).

Ballinger and co. don't just take out the irrelevant stuff — a giveaway to the soda industry paid for by tax hikes on unemployment benefits and digital downloads. They also take out the tax hike that is actually the relevant pay-for on the military exemption: the sales tax hike on soda and candy. The result is not a revenue neutral bill; it's a revenue negative tax cut. Ballinger and company's bill would create the exemption for military retirement benefits and offer no explicit pay-for at all. They say that it should be paid for with corresponding spending cuts.

Of course, those spending cuts would have to come from somewhere and color me skeptical that there's an appetite for that in this session. So this is likely D.O.A. But it gives the opponents of Hutchinson's bill a chance to vote for something so they can say they support the vets too.

Many Democrats, it should be noted, objected to the inclusion of the irrelevant bits in Hutchinson's proposal — particularly the tax hike on unemployment benefits — but most ended up backing the bill in the end. They're obviously not going to vote for Ballinger's bill because it simply drains revenue. And what kinds of spending cuts would this gang come up with? Shudder to think — here's the list of co-sponsors: Sen. Bart Hester and Reps. Beck, Bentley, Dotson, C. Douglas, M. Gray, G. Hodges, Jean, Ladyman, Lundstrum, McCollum, D. Meeks, S. Meeks, Miller, Payton, Rye, Sullivan.

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