Leaders of the Arkansas Progressive Group announced Thursday (May 27) they will withdraw their AR OneTax ballot initiative following an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that the group could not challenge its own initiative in court.
The tax proposal sought to vastly restructure Arkansas’ tax code so that state tax revenue would largely be dependent on a higher sales tax.
After two attempts to get the ballot title approved by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, APG moved in mid-February to establish “legal sufficiency” of the ballot by challenging the title before the Arkansas Supreme Court. APG Director Brandon Woodrome said they wanted a a legal review now instead of facing a lawsuit on the issue a few weeks or days before the November election.
The APG attempt to challenge its ballot title was opposed by the Arkansans to Protect Police, Libraries, Education, and Services (APPLES). The APPLES group argued that Woodrome could not sue himself in order to seek legal sufficiency. The Arkansas Supreme Court on May 20 ruled that Woodrome was indeed ineligible to ask for review of his own initiative.
Woodrome said the group didn’t want to spend money collecting signatures and marketing just to see it swiped off the ballot at the last minute because of a legal technicality.
APG had until July 2 to deliver 77,468 valid voter signatures from a minimum of 15 different counties to the Secretary of State. Woodrome said the group didn’t want to spend money collecting signatures and marketing just to see it swiped off the ballot at the last minute because of a legal technicality.
But with the Arkansas Supreme Court rejecting the attempt to by APG to challenge its own ballot title, the group has decided to regroup and try again in 2011.
“We don’t want to spend the time and money to get the amendment certified and voter-approved if it’s just going to be thrown out later,” Woodrome said in a statement. “We’ll resubmit it next year and see what happens.”
The “AR OneTax” would not cut government revenue, but would merely shift all tax collections to an easily identified tax structure and would remove the “thousands of hidden taxes Arkansans pay each day but don’t know about,” Woodrome explained in an October 2009 interview.
Part of that tax shift would include reversing recent cuts to the sales tax on grocery items. Gov. Mike Beebe has made ground on making good on a promise to reduce the state’s 6% tax on essential food items. The tax has been reduced from 6% to 2% during the previous two legislative sessions.
Critics of the proposal sat it would create a regressive tax structure harmful to lower income families and that it would create high a sales tax rate that would harm border city economies.