LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Policy makers hope Issue 2 will create opportunities for economic growth by funneling sales tax money to specific districts.
Issue 2 would authorize local governments to create tax districts for redevelopment and to levy taxes to pay off debt to closed police and fire pension funds.
Heading out the polls next week, voters may be tempted to gloss over issue two, with other topics catching most headlines this fall. But this amendment could have a significant economic impact to communities across the state as it allows for STAR bonds.
"Sales tax anticipated revenue bond is what Star stands for. The benefit of it is it's an economic development tool that will be beneficial for cities and counties to do things. It really works in undeveloped or blighted areas," says Sponsor of the amendment, Senator Jake Files of Ft. Smith.
If passed, the law would give cities and counties power to create tax districts. Policy makers hope it attracts businesses to undeveloped areas.
"This would provide some infrastructure for retail and entities like that, you know a bass pro shop, a hotel, could come in because this is really geared toward sales tax generating projects and so I think it would not only be jobs, but other opportunity, just better quality of life for the residents in the area," says Files.
Once developed, the sales tax from these districts would go directly to pay off loans and this would not increase sales tax and would not impact the state's portion of sales tax. Also, Files says this is a starting point for the state legislature.
"This is permissive legislation so if this passes, then what we'll do next session is set up the real framework there are chances for...you know I've had people say I'm just not sure what exactly this does, this just allows the legislature to come back and set some parameters," says Files.
Files says he sponsored the change to bring a new method of economic growth for the state.
"Getting more jobs is something that's paramount in every campaign across the state now," says Files.
There is another portion in Issue two that allows for cities and counties to use sales tax to pay off closed police and fire pensions.
Official wording of Issue 2 (.PDF)
There are five total issues on the ballot:
- Issue 1 is an amendment to finance $1.3 billion in bonds for state highways, county roads, city streets, bridges, and other surface transportation with a half-cent sales tax increase over the next 10 years.
- Issue 2 would authorize local governments to create tax districts for redevelopment and to levy taxes to pay off debt to closed police and fire pension funds.
- Issue 3 is an amendment to allow Nancy Todd's Poker Palace and Entertainment Venues, LLC to own and operate four casino gaming establishments, one each in Pulaski, Miller, Franklin and Crittenden Counties. VOTES FOR THIS ISSUE WILL NOT BE COUNTED DUE TO A RULING BY THE ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT.
- Issue 4 is an amendment to allow Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc. to own and operate seven casino gaming establishments, one each in Sebastian, Pulaski, Garland, Miller, Crittenden, Boone and Jefferson Counties. VOTES FOR THIS ISSUE WILL NOT BE COUNTED DUE TO A RULING BY THE ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT.
- Issue 5 is an amendment that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It would also establish the rules, organization, and process of medical marijuana.