August 20, 2003 - Posted at: 11:30pm
JONESBORO, AR -- Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee hopes legislators can come to a compromise when it comes to fixing the state's education problem.
The governor called for a special legislative session Wednesday. It has tentatively been set for December 8, 2003.
"We spent 94 days, one of the longest, if not the longest session in the state's history, and left not only having failed to solve the education issue, but after that 94 days, failed to have passed a budget or a mechanism to fund it," Huckabee said at a press conference in Little Rock.
Representative Paul Bookout (D-Jonesboro) said he's surprised the governor chose a session date in December.
Representative Bookout said, "I guess I think a lot of us expected maybe October/November. That way we would have a little bit of time, since we're up against the clock as far as the supreme court ruling, January 1, so not coming in until December is gonna be a bit of a confined time to work in."
Consultants recently recommended the state spend $825 million more per year to improve Arkansas' public school system. Huckabee's plan includes consolidation of districts with fewer that 1,500 students.
Representative Harmon Seawel of Pocahontas said his plan is similar to the governor's. Legislators have tentatively agreed to a funding formula. Representative Bookout is optimistic a final compromise can be reached.
"We're just gonna have to do the best we can," Bookout added, "That's the governor's prerogative.".