LITTLE ROCK — Republican gubernatorial candidate Curtis Coleman on Tuesday called for lowering or eliminating the state income tax and decentralizing the state’s economic development role.
Coleman presented his "21st Century Economic Development Plan," which he said would foster more small business start ups, fewer state and federal regulations and a more diverse economy, beginning at the local level. He said he would divulge specifics of his plan as the governor’s race unfolds.
"Our new economic development model will not be dependent upon what the U.S., the U.N. or even the state tells us what to do," Coleman told about 30 supporters at a state Capitol news conference. "Our communities will lead, and the state’s economic development institutions will follow."
Coleman said he opposes using taxpayer incentives to lure new industries to the state and believes that start ups are better in the long run because they will stay and grow.
Two other Republicans, former Congressman Asa Hutchinson and state Rep. Debra Hobbs of Rogers, have announced intentions to run in the 2014 governor’s race to succeed incumbent Democrat Mike Beebe, who is term-limited. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and ex-Congressman Mike Ross are the two Democrats who have announced for the race.
Coleman said Tuesday the state must develop a plan to keep its best and brightest from moving out of state after high school or college.
"To change this, Arkansas must do what must be done to create not just more jobs but high-quality, better-paying jobs that will let our children go to college and then come back home to opportunities to create wealth and financial security for their families and their futures," he said.
Making broadband Internet services available to all areas of the state and developing tax-free enterprise zones in the Delta so "a new business can start or locate with no state tax liabilities" also are key, Coleman said.
"Let me be clear, what I’ve described … is the superstructure for our ship of state," he said. "In the coming months, I’ll be offering the details of the contents of each cargo hold in the ship, including details on tax reform, regulatory reform, improvements to education and what we can do to let each segment of Arkansas’ economy prosper, from trucking to tourism, from farming to financial services, from manufacturing to medicine and health care, from energy to entertainment."