Republicans Line Up Against Beebe's Severance Tax Proposal

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Republican leaders are lining up against Governor Mike Beebe's proposed hike in the severance tax on natural gas to pay for road improvements.

The Republicans' House leader and state party chairman issued statements yesterday opposing Beebe's tax proposal, which he says could eventually raise $100 million annually for state highways and local roads.  Beebe unveiled the tax hike after reaching a compromise with natural gas firms that have been drilling the state's Fayetteville Shale natural gas formation.

Republicans make up a fraction of the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but their opposition could be a hurtle to gathering the 3/4 vote needed in the House and Senate to pass such a tax.  The Democratic governor has said he won't call a special session unless he has the votes to pass the increase.

In the House, Democrats hold a 75-25 majority over Republicans while the party's majority in the Senate is 27-8.

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