by Max Brantley
Come clean, the Arkansas Leader urges presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in an editorial. Start telling the truth about your Arkansas record, lest you become caricatured as a serial embroiderer by opposition researchers. What untruths?
This one, for instance: The Iowa papers are full of claims by Huckabee that he never raised motor fuel taxes in Arkansas. “Eighty percent of the people of my state voted to do it,” he was quoted in one newspaper as saying last week. A letter to all the television station managers in Iowa made the same claim, that voters at a statewide referendum, not he, raised diesel and gasoline taxes and that defying the voters’ will would have violated his oath of office.
But that never happened. The legislature passed Huckabee’s highway program, which included hikes in gasoline and diesel taxes, and he signed it into law. Voters never got a chance to vote on those taxes. They were allowed to vote whether to apply those taxes on a pay-as-you-go program or to borrow $575 million and build them sooner. Anyone can look up the law, the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999, Act 1027, and see that the taxes were never subjected to a vote and that they were collected regardless of what happened on the bond election.