Legislators Showing Little Enthusiasm for Governor's Refund Idea

MAY 10, 2006 - Posted at 8:03 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The idea of tax rebates as a way to return to Arkansas taxpayers a portion of the state's projected $332.3 million surplus has met with no enthusiasm among legislative leaders.  Governor Huckabee said he was considering such a move yesterday.

But the House speaker for the 2007 session questioned the timing of the governor's proposal, seven months before Huckabee's term is over at the end of the year.  Benny Petrus wondered where the idea was last year, and why Huckabee was proposing it now, as the end of his term nears.  Huckabee leaves office on December 31.

Current House Speaker Bill Stovall and Senate President Jim Argue both said any discussion of what to do with the surplus should wait until budget hearings in the fall.

Jack Critcher of Batesville, who will serve as the Senate president in 2007, said concerns about pandemic flu hitting Arkansas mean the state should be cautious in its handling of the surplus.  He said he doesn't think the state is in any position to be handing out rebates.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)