Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson says he would reduce the state's individual income tax as governor beginning with the middle class.
Hutchinson, speaking at his Little Rock headquarters Tuesday in his first campaign news conference, said he would lower income taxes for earners making between about $20,000 and $75,000 in his first year and later turn his attention toward cutting the rate for higher earners.
"But let's start with the hard-working Arkansans who are in the middle class who need the relief the most and can use this money for their own benefit and to spend," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said Arkansas has the highest income-tax rate among surrounding states and that lowering it would create jobs.
Hutchinson said the first wave of his plan involves cutting the tax rate from 7 percent to 6 percent for those earning between $34,000 and $75,000 and from 6 percent to 5 percent for those earning $20,400 to $33,999.
He estimated the cost of the first-year cuts at $100 million and said it could be paid for by "existing growth and surplus" without spending cuts.
Hutchinson, a former congressman, is vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, as are State Rep. Debra Hobbs of Roger and businessman Curtis Coleman of Little Rock.
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.