Alternative Highway Funding Needed

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Beebe says the increase in the severance tax on natural gas will likely generate more than the $57 million expected in its first year.

The severance tax increase was approved in a special legislative session and Beebe signed it into law on April 2.  Beebe said the estimated revenue for the first year of the tax was based on a natural gas price of $8 per million British thermal units.  Today, the natural gas price is $13 per million British thermal units.

Beebe says the price will probably fluctuate but he expects the estimates to be reworked when the tax hike goes into effect January 1.

Beebe addressed a gathering of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council, a group that advocates improvement of roads and highways in the state.

For new highway construction, Beebe said he would be open to using tolls for funding.  He said he is against adding tolls to pay for improvements to existing roads but said one funding possibility is adding lanes to be used only by motorists who choose to pay tolls.

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