Highway Commissioners Undecided on Timing of Bond Package Vote

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas voters will get a chance to decide on a $575 million highway bond package, but members of the state Highway Commission say they haven't decided when the election will occur.  Legislation approved in the just-completed session of the General Assembly allows Governor Beebe to put the issue on the ballot in next year's general election or to call a special election before then.

A similar measure supported by then-Governor Mike Huckabee failed in a December 2005 special election after opponents criticized a provision that would have allowed the commission to continue to extend debt without a public vote.

Cliff Hoofman of North Little Rock, a Huckabee appointee to the commission, said members of the panel would probably try to get a feel for the preference of voters on the timing of the election.  Commission chairman Jonathon Barnett of Siloam Springs said at Wednesday's meeting that the issue should be more fully discussed at next month's meeting.

The bonds that would be at issue in the voting would be financed by anticipated future appropriations of federal highway dollars, and with the state's four-cents-a-gallon diesel tax.  No bonds could be issued after December 31, 2013.

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