Arkansas Works Passage Leaves Legislators Free To Focus On Highway Funding Bill

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Now that Arkansas legislators have passed funding for the state's new version of the private option health insurance, which covers health insurance for low-income Arkansans, lawmakers can move on to other businesses.

In order to move on to funding a new highway program, legislators had to agree to fund the state's hybrid Medicaid program dubbed Arkansas Works.

The highway funding plan is also coming from Governor Hutchinson. His recommendation would mean a state investment of about $750 million to the highway department over the next 10 years. This match would allow Arkansas to access more than $2 billion in federal highway money over the next 10 years.

The governor said all this can be done without raising taxes.

5NEWS spoke to two Arkansas legislators about the highway funding proposal. Republican senator Bart Hester of Benton County and Democratic representative Greg Leding from Fayetteville. Hester voted against Arkansas Works, whereas Leding voted for it during this latest special session.

"A highway budget's $2.6 billion a year. That's $50 million a week or $7 million a day," said Sen. Hester. "We're not hurting for money, but certainly we could all be happy with more and better highways."

Leding said Arkansas Works would have to be approved by the federal government, but legislators plan to implement it as though it'll get the nod from Washington D.C.