Area Lawmakers Skeptical of Huckabee's Idea to Rebate Surplus Revenue to Taxpayers

JULY 6, 2006 - Posted at 3:28 p.m. CDT, updated at 7:54 a.m. CDT on 7/7/06

JONESBORO, AR - As K8 News informed you last night, Arkansas has ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $402 million.  That's more than $70 million above what was forecast.

Governor Mike Huckabee has considered using a portion of the surplus for some form of tax rebates, but says that would require legislative action, and he's not sure there's concensus for that idea among lawmakers.

Based on the reaction K8 News got from two Jonesboro lawmakers Thursday, he may be right.

"Certainly we have a surplus," said State Representative Chris Thyer.  "But it is one thing to say that we have a surplus above net available general revenue and quite another to say we have all of our bills paid."  Thyer says the state still has not completed all of the Supreme Court mandated requirements for upgrading public education in the state, something that he says will likely cost a lot of money.

Meanwhile, state Senator Paul Bookout said "We need to keep in mind that there is going to be budget hearings and we'll be having to project what the budget needs are going to be for the state...for the next two years."  Bookout says those budget hearings will take place in the next two to three months.

Huckabee has said he won't call a special session unless there's solid support among lawmakers.

(The Associated Press and K8 photojournalist Chris Haag contributed to this report.)