by Max Brantley
Sooner rather than later on the severance tax? Asked by reporters again today about a timetable, Gov. Mike Beebe allowed as how a special session on a severance tax increase could be possible in March, should a consensus emerge, so that legislators worried about May primary elections could get it out of the way speedily.
Does that mean a consensus is forming? Spokesman Matt DeCample said the governor hadn't gone that far. "Whatever comes together.... If there's a consensus sooner, that's no problem. His primary goal is finding a consensus on a fair raise in the tax that puts us on an even keel with states around us and the money goes to highways."
But there's no doubt that the Sheffield Nelson-led initiative drive for a tax increase has speeded the issue. It wasn't so long ago that Beebe not only preferred a legislative solution but a 2009 legislative solution. We await the news on what the gas industry will allow the legislature to approve. And when.