Arkansas governor, state trucking group at odds over bond issue

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The board of the Arkansas Trucking Association and Gov. Mike Huckabee have traded accusations that each is being dishonest about a highway bond issue that Arkansans will vote on in a special election Dec. 13.

Huckabee says he was surprised when the association board recently voted to oppose extending the 1999 bond issue used to finance road improvements currently under way. The group had supported the measure when it won legislative approval in the regular session this year.

The trucking association says it is troubled that the highway plan would grant permanent authority for issuing general obligation bonds to the Arkansas Highway Commission, removing legislative and public oversight.

Huckabee attacked the trucking association in a letter released Wednesday, Nov. 9. He accused the association’s executive director, Lane Kidd, of “false and misleading statements.” He also said Kidd had “flip-flopped” by supporting the proposed program, then coming out against it. “I cannot fathom a situation calling for such drastic action as an abrupt and unexpected breaking of one’s earlier promise,” Huckabee wrote in the letter dated Monday, Nov. 7. He added that “one’s word is their bond.”

Kidd and association president Vicki Stephens said they didn’t know all the details when they offered that support. That includes the provision granting the commission authority to continue to issue bonds in the future without approval of the people, Stephens said.

“I was not aware of this when I cast my vote to support it,” Stephens said. “I feel very strongly that it is taking this away from the vote of the people. As far as I’m concerned, it is being presented differently than the way we were led to believe in the very beginning.”