Huckabee Putting More Heat on Legislators as Election Nears

APRIL 8, 2004 - Posted at 7:09 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Huckabee is targeting legislators for raising taxes and failing to pass reforms that he said would have streamlined government.

Huckabee says legislators have been more willing to raise taxes than work for efficiency in public schools and state departments.  The governor made the accusations yesterday during his monthly call-in radio show.

Huckabee had already signaled he would be active in this year's legislative races.  Yesterday he urged his listeners to be active and elect different legislators.

Twice in the past year, the Legislature has raised taxes while rejecting measures the governor presented as ways to make government more efficient.

Facing a budget shortfall last year, the General Assembly passed about $100 million in new taxes to shore up funding for public schools, Medicaid and state prisons.

The governor had proposed a sales-tax increase amounting to nearly $250 million over two years.  Huckabee signed the legislation but criticized lawmakers for rejecting the government reorganization plan he proposed as a way to show good faith with citizens.

In the recent special session on education reform, Huckabee refused to support $370 million in new taxes to pay for public education improvements.  The Legislature rejected Huckabee's plan to consolidate schools to hold down costs.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)