In a capacity luncheon of 75 persons at the Hope Lions Club on Monday, District 10 State Senator Larry Teague (D-Nashville) touted a possible elimination of the state's income tax as part of policy speech discussing mostly financial issues. Teague also informally stated his intentions to seek reelection for another term as state senator.
In a capacity luncheon of 75 persons at the Hope Lions Club on Monday, District 10 State Senator Larry Teague (D-Nashville) touted a possible elimination of the state’s income tax as part of policy speech discussing mostly financial issues. Teague also informally stated his intentions to seek reelection for another term as state senator.
“I think with the tax cuts that we’ve had in the past few years, we are kind of working towards that,” Teague said, referencing the state’s individual income tax.
“But, for something like that to happen, we are really going to have look at eliminating all of these exemptions we have, and we are going to have to look at that Internet sales tax again,” he said.
Teague, who has been a long standing member of the Senate Finance Committee, is now sitting on the Governor’s tax reform panel, which has now met a couple of times. The select panel is a group of legislators charged with studying and making recommendations about the state’s tax code.
“I think changes could be coming, but you never know. These types of things can be very difficult. I sat on a similar panel years ago and I don’t recall that a lot came out of it,” he said.
Teague even said the current panel’s recommendation at the end of 2017 could be “That we don’t have a recommendation, yet.” Teague added that 2018 was set to be fiscal session, but he said “This is a challenging issue, but I think think there is a real commitment to get it right and accomplish something.”
Teague said the panel authorized a consulting group to study the state’s tax structure.
“Whether they can do it in a few months where we are able to make a recommendation remains to be seen,” he said. Teague referenced the Health Reform panel in 2015, which also hired a consulting firm, The Stephens Group, to study health care.
“It took them two years; wth the tax code and all these exemptions, it might take just as long,” he said.
Teague also discussed the ongoing state Medicaid controversy, which he justified his position based on his concerns about rural hospitals.
“Our rural health facilities need the money; there are only the three hospitals in my district now. Wadley here in Hope, and one in Nashville and Mena. They were all struggling before, and at least, the Medicaid expansion helped them financially. If we get rid of it, and people don’t pay the premiums and lose the insurance, then those hospitals are at risk again,” he said.
Teague repeated a comment he had made in a previous speech saying, “I wish that we had waited until we saw what Washington was going to do on this front.”
One tax that Teague did say may happen is some sort of dedicated measure for state roads and highways, which he admitted were in bad shape.
“The money has got to come from somewhere to get these things fixed,” he said.
Teague also briefly addressed education funding, federal funding, and then, almost casually mentioned that he was running for reelection.
“I enjoy serving, and I would like to be there as long as the people want me,” Teague said.
Teague said he also enjoyed a good relationship with Governor Asa Hutchinson, and he noted that in some regards, Teague, although a Democrat, was more conservative than Hutchinson, who is a Republican in a state that has now become dominated by the GOP.