House, Senate Leaders Revamping Project Funding

FEBRUARY 8, 2007 - Posted at 7:34 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - State money for local projects around Arkansas would be provided at the discretion of a new commission and not as a result of politicking in the Legislature under a new plan.

The new method of deciding which projects will get funded was unveiled yesterday. It was developed in response to a court ruling that said the current method violates the state constitution's ban on state funding of strictly local projects.

House Speaker Benny Petrus and Senate President Pro Tem Jack Critcher (D-Batesville) proposed creating a Community Assistance Commission that would review grants for various projects around the state. The measure calls for the Senate president and House speaker to each appoint four members to the eight-person commmission. The four members from each chamber would represent the four congressional districts of the state.

Critcher said he believed the commission would satisfy the state Supreme Court. The high court ruled last year that lawmakers violated the state constitution's ban on state funding for strictly local projects when they appropriated $400,000 for street improvements in Bigelow.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)