Not seven hours after Gov. Mike Beebe delivered his State of the State address, the top legislative leaders challenged two of his major proposals in front of a key audience.
Senate President Pro-Tem Jack Critcher and House Speaker Benny Petrus just finished speaking to the Arkansas Municipal League Convention, where a crowd of 1,000 mayors, city officials and members of the state legislature heard them sharply disagree with Beebe's proposal to give an additional $4 million in so-called turnback funds to cities and counties. Of course, that is the issue that concerns the Municipal League more than any other.
Critcher spoke first, and according to our correspondent, he said cities were not getting their fair share. $7 million would be a more appropriate amount, Critcher said.
Petrus made a similar point, sympathizing with city officials who have to worry about crumbling roads and infrastructure. He stated that he disagreed with Beebe's turnback number, and said he would work hard to make sure cities get a full and fair increase.
Petrus also spoke at length against Beebe's proposal to cut the grocery tax, arguing for more targeted tax cuts.
This is a significant challenge to Beebe's agenda, issued quickly and bluntly.
P.S. -- Beebe will be the luncheon speaker at the Arkansas Municipal League Convention tomorrow at 12:15 p.m.