New Speaker Says Three-Fourths of House Likely to Support Tax Hike

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The incoming Arkansas House speaker says that close to 75 representatives have told him they will probably support a proposed hike in the severance tax on natural gas.

Rep. Robbie Wills, who will serve as speaker in the 2009 session, says between 55 and 60 representatives have said they're definitely voting for Beebe's proposal.  Wills says between 15 and 20 have said they're leaning toward supporting the tax hike.

Governor Beebe needs 75 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate to pass the proposed tax hike, which he estimates will eventually raise $100 million annually for the state's roads.  Beebe has said he won't call a special session to consider the increase unless he has the votes to pass it.

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