Arkansas Governor Hopefuls Tussle over Grocery Tax, Rural Schools

SEPTEMBER 29, 2006 - Posted at 7:54 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Yesterday, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Beebe accused Republican rival Asa Hutchinson of being inconsistent on his support of eliminating the grocer tax, as Hutchinson unveiled an ad accusing Beebe of causing the problem of schools being closed.

Beebe's campaign accused Hutchinson of changing positions on eliminating the grocery tax and cited comments Hutchinson made saying earlier this year that the tax cut was not part of his agenda.

The exchange is part of an ongoing fight between the gubernatorial hopefuls over how to eliminate the state's six-cent tax on groceries.  Hutchinson has called for immediately removing the tax, and Beebe favors phasing the tax out over time to avoid hurting state services.

Hutchinson also launched a television spot targeting Beebe over the issue of rural schools.

The ad is an apparent reference to Beebe's opposition to a proposal that would have allowed some rural schools to ease standards.  Hutchinson has said there should be some flexibility in the state's mandated 38 core courses, but Beebe has accused Hutchinson of favoring watered-down curriculum.

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