Some Arkansas Lawmakers Are Trying to put the Breaks on Governor's Highway Plan

February 14, 2005 -- Posted 6:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- New reports indicate some Arkansas legislators are trying to put the brakes on Governor Huckabee's billion dollar highway program. As a result, voters could ultimately decide if his plan goes full steam ahead.

Meanwhile, the new-less complicated trek from Jonesboro to Westside is closer to completion.

"We've got a 3 way stop on the Westside School side which will have a traffic signal after the weather warms up, dries up enough that we can put that in," said Joe Barnett with the State Highway Department.

As this project runs its course, others may lie ahead. As part of his 3-H agenda, Governor Huckabee has been trying to push a billion dollar highway program, since the beginning of the general session.

"The Arkansas Highway Commission has identified 16 billion dollars worth of needs over the next 10 years. During that same period, we anticipate about 4 billion dollars worth of revenue, so there's a significant shortfall of revenue," said Barnett.

That's creating some concern for legislators. In light of the state's preoccupation with education funding, some lawmakers are cool to the idea of raising taxes for highway construction. Others like State Representative Dustin McDaniel of Jonesboro are open to compromise.

"We would hope that the funding would come through bonds, matching funds from the federal government , and a minimal draw from general revenues, but again those details have not come across my desk yet," said McDaniel.

So as the governor navigates his way to a highway project, should his proposal fail in the legislature, voters could ultimately decide this issue.

The governor's office tells K8 News the highway bill will likely be introduced later in the session.