Beebe won't commit on highway tax increase | Arkansas Blog

Beebe won't commit on highway tax increase

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NO COMMENT: Gov. Beebe keeping powder dry on highway tax.
  • NO COMMITMENT: Gov. Beebe keeping powder dry on highway tax.
Ever-cautious Gov. Mike Beebe tells Stephens Media he's not ready to commit on the half-cent sales tax increase put on the 2012 ballot to pay for a four-lane highway construction program. It's a tax increase, he sagely notes, unlike the highway bond refinance approved overhwelmingly by voters Tuesday. That was just rolling over your credit card balance for another couple of decades. Manana.

“I think they are so totally different issues,” Beebe said Wednesday. “I think there will be a lot more reluctance on the people’s part to increase the sales tax for roads.“

The governor made no commitment to back the 2012 highway program as he did with publicly supporting and appearing in television ads for the interstate bond program.

“I have no preconceived notions right now on what I’m going to do in that regard, we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said. “It’s way to early to tell.”

Beebe's reluctance is even more interesting in context of an earlier remark that he might vote for the gas severance tax initiative being pushed by Sheffield Nelson and the Arkansas Municipal League. It's a tax increase, but it would mostly be paid by gas users in other states and would pay for highways as well as provide some money for shoring up our underfinanced gas regulatory mechanisms. It is a totally different issue, in other words. Beats a half-cent on groceries, clothes, utilities to push those costs into other states while getting the money necessary to pay for damage caused by the drilling industry.

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