Arkansas Could Create Scholarships with Severance Tax Hike - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Little Rock, AR

Arkansas Could Create Scholarships with Severance Tax Hike

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A nonprofit group says Arkansas could use an increased severance tax on natural gas to create a statewide scholarship program modeled after the one funded by Murphy Oil Corporation.  That program guarantees nearly every El Dorado high school graduate a college education.

The Southern Good Faith Fund recommended hiking the tax to create a trust fund that could pay for higher education initiatives.  The group said the trust fund could earn between $144.6 million and $345.9 million in interest over the next decade, and part of the money could be used to create a statewide scholarship modeled after El Dorado Promise.

El Dorado Promise is a one-year-old $50 million scholarship program funded by Murphy Oil.  The Southern Good Faith Fund said a statewide version of the scholarship would cost $85 million in its first year.

The group said revenues from the trust fund also could go toward the state's Workforce Investment Grant program and a needs-based scholarship created by the Legislature last year.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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