The University of Arkansas Walton College of Business inducted four new members in the state’s Business Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include advertising executive James Faulkner, international businessman Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, farmer Stanley Reed and poultry magnate Mark Simmons.
Beebe touts private option funding
Gov. Mike Beebe said there are a “multiplicity” of reasons state legislators should vote to fund Arkansas’ private option plan. Beebe said Arkansas’ businesses are estimated to save $38 million a year by not having to pay penalties under the federal health care law. Also, private option funding helps Arkansas hospitals, especially rural medical operations, Beebe said. He predicted the vote during the upcoming fiscal session will be close, but he believes legislators will ultimately “deal with logic and money” and set aside ideology.
Ross proposes phase-in of income tax reform
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross proposed a major overhaul of the state’s personal income tax structure on Wednesday and said the plan would have to be phased in over time as allowed by the state’s finances. The restructuring would cost an estimated $574.5 million. The crux of Ross’ plan would be to retroactively index Arkansas income tax brackets.
Ross’ likely Republican rival, Asa Hutchinson said the plan was “not serious.” Last November, Hutchinson proposed a $100 million tax reform proposal to reduce the income tax rate from 7 percent to 6 percent for Arkansans earning $34,000 to $75,000 a year, and from 6 percent to 5 percent for those earning $20,400 to $33,999 annually.
Double-digit gains for electronic gambling at Oaklawn, Southland in 2013
Oaklawn and Southland saw double-digit spikes in their overall electronic games of skill wagers in 2013. EGS wagers include gambling spent on video blackjack, poker, slot machines and other casino-style games. The latest statistics released by the Arkansas Racing Commission showed Oaklawn topping the $1 billion hurdle in EGS wagers in 2013 and Southland EGS wagers clearing $2 billion. Combined EGS wagers between the two racetracks was $3.228 billion for the full year.
January tax revenues drag
Arkansas tax revenues held up year-to-date, but sluggish sales collections in January were an ominous sign. For the first seven months of the state’s fiscal year, gross revenue totaled $3.482 billion, 2.1 percent above the same period last year and above forecast by 0.7 percent, according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
“Sales and Use tax represented the major drag on collections in January,” said state economist John Shelnutt. “Collection growth was only 0.2 percent compared to a year ago and 4.0 percent below forecast. Weaker than expected retail sales to consumers accounted for this result.”
USA Truck, Knight Transportation settle litigation
Van Buren-based USA Truck and Knight Transportation have settled litigation related to Knight’s attempted hostile takeover bid. Knight went public on Sept. 26 with a $9 per share bid for USA Truck, but it was rejected. USA Truck sued Knight claiming it improperly used USA Truck’s confidential information to begin a “creeping hostile acquisition.” Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but both firms issued positive statements regarding the legal move.
Seeing green on the blues scene
The growing blues scene in Helena-West Helena could have some folks seeing green. Entrepreneurs looking for matching capital investment in downtown Helena-West Helena have until March 31 to submit proposals to Southern Bancorp. The Riverside Renewal Project, announced last week, is an incentive program matching investment dollars 1:1 beginning at $25,000, up to $100,000 for eligible applicants.