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Ark. House panel backs Beebe's grocery tax cut

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Gov. Mike Beebe's proposal to conditionally reduce the state's grocery tax has won approval from an Arkansas House committee.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted on Friday to pass the measure, which would reduce the grocery tax only if the state's desegregation settlement payments or bond obligations decrease by $35 million over a six-month period. If those conditions are met, the grocery tax would be reduced from 1.5 percent to 0.125 percent.

Republican legislative leaders are negotiating over a separate $100 million package of tax cuts, which is expected to include reductions in the state income and capital gains tax. Beebe, a Democrat, has said there isn't room in his budget for additional cuts, but said savings from a proposal to expand healthcare coverage could fund some reductions.