Protesters Target Bill To Divert General Revenue To Highways

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 5 views 

Rep. Jonathan Barnett’s HB 1418 would shift revenue from the sales tax collected on car purchases, auto parts and services from Arkansas’ general revenue account to a special highway revenue fund, but a number of groups opposing the proposal plan to fight it, including Gov. Mike Beebe.

John Lyon with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports:

Advocates of family and children’s services, along with representatives of a number of the state’s colleges and universities, voiced opposition Wednesday to a proposal they say would divert about $2.3 billion in state general revenue to state highways over the next decade.

Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Youth, said during a rally against the bill at the state Capitol that the legislation “would take state general revenue that is used to fund critical services for children and families, including education, higher education, Medicaid and health services for vulnerable populations, services for abused and neglected children, juvenile justice services for kids … public safety and corrections and pre-K and child care for our youngest populations.”

In an interview, Barnett said he has had his bill amended to stipulate that public school and higher education would not see any funding reductions.

He also said the proposal is one of the recommendations made by the Arkansas Blue Ribbon Committee on Highway Finance in 2010. The panel met for about 18 months trying to determine how to address the state’s $19 billion in highway needs over the next 10 years.

Gov. Mike Beebe opposes the plan to divert general revenue to fund highway department needs his spokesman said. Read more here.