LITTLE ROCK — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Arkansas has relied on the strength and work ethic of Essential Workers. Grocery store clerks, electricians, gas station cashiers, poultry plant workers, and a host of positions filled with dedicated and hard working Arkansans have kept this state running. State economic relief has thus far focused on supporting large businesses, small businesses, and the unemployed. Legislators also allowed a $100 million tax cut geared toward those with incomes of more than $450,000 a year. Some lawmakers are now even calling for a special session to protect businesses from liability if their employees get sick.
But first and foremost, the state should turn to supporting those who have been supporting our towns and communities all along, essential workers who make less than $150,000. There is bi-partisan support and acknowledgement of the essential role these Arkansans have served in the economy and our daily lives.
The Democratic Party of Arkansas is calling for the study and creation of childcare tax credits and an income tax suspension for a time period covering the duration of this crisis for those earning under $150,000 a year. This needs to be a truly bi-partisan solution directed either through an executive order from the Governor’s office or a special session of the Arkansas Legislature.
“These are the people who are the true backbone of Arkansas. They have more than earned recognition, appreciation, and true support from the state,” said DPA Chairman Michael John Gray. “Arkansans are united in getting through this and doing right by essential workers. We have all seen and relied upon their tremendous contribution day in and day out. They’ve been there for us, to keep things running, despite the risk to their personal health. Let’s step up for them, like they have for us.”
“This is above partisanship and traditional politics. This is about coming together and recognizing the tremendous sacrifices that essential workers and their families are making for all of us. Sometimes it can seem like everyone else in our society has got some kind of extra help to get through this. But that hasn’t stopped them from showing up to do the work. Now, it’s our turn. They have earned support for childcare costs. They have earned some relief on their income taxes. It’s time for us to turn our good will into something that these workers can hold on to.”