February 12, 2006 - Posted at 1:00 p.m. CST
CONWAY, Ark. (AP) _ Asa Hutchinson, the only Republican running
for governor, has an idea for using the state General Improvement
Fund, and it's NOT on the favorite local projects of legislators.
Hutchinson said yesterday that the G-I-F money should be used to
enhance job training at Arkansas' two-year colleges and fund
technology research at the states' universities.
On campaign stops in Conway and Russellville, Hutchinson said
the discretionary funds would be better spent on long-term needs
rather than divided among state legislators for local projects in
Hutchinson proposed using G-I-F money for two-year colleges to
improve training in nursing, trucking, high-tech jobs, and
manufacturing. Four-year colleges could benefit from the money, he
said, by using it for research in such areas as nanotechnology and
The campaign of Mike Beebe, one of two Democrats running for
that party's nomination for governor, welcomed Hutchinson's
proposal. Beebe campaign spokesman Zac Wright issued a statement
saying Beebe had long supported the idea of using the General
Improvement Fund for higher education and economic development.
Wright said that, in higher education, the money should be used
for capital improvements -- buildings and equipment. He said that,
in the area of economic development, the G-I-F funds should be used
to take advantage of economic opportunities that arise, both
planned and unexpected.
There was no immediate response from the campaign of Bill
Halter, the other Democrat running for governor.