Hutchinson Says Discretionary Funds Should Go to Job Training, Research

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

their districts.

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.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)