Officials: Even with Severance Tax Cash, Highways Would Need More - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Little Rock, AR

Officials: Even with Severance Tax Cash, Highways Would Need More

LITTLE ROCK, AR - If Governor Beebe's proposal for an increase in the state's severance tax is approved, most of the money will go toward improvement of state and local roads.

The proposal has drawn criticism from some Republican legislators.  GOP Representative Mark Martin of Prarie Grove says the money is being spread too thin for it to make a difference in local projects.  He says the full sum should be sent to localities if the tax hike is approved.

On Tuesday, Beebe announced an agreement that would raise the severance tax five percent.  If the Legislature approves Beebe's proposal, the tax would bring an estimated $57 million next year and about $100 million annually by 2012.

Arkansas Highway Commission chairman Jonathon Barnett of Siloam Springs says that any money from the tax the agency gets would help keep up the highways.  State highways are projected to need about $16 billion more than will be available over the coming 10 years.  But Barnett says any amount from the severance tax would help.

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

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