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Romney Campaign Press Release - Research Briefing: Gov. Mike Huckabee "Meet The Press" Fact Check

December 30, 2007

A Look at Gov. Huckabee's Real Arkansas Record

MYTH: Gov. Huckabee Claims That Arkansas Voters Approved A Gas Tax For Highway Rebuilding:

Gov. Huckabee Claimed That Arkansas Voters Supported A Tax For Highway Improvement. GOV. HUCKABEE: "He made claims about things like tax increases, but he failed to mention that some of those were either court-ordered or they were voted on by the people and approved by the people for things as roads." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 12/30/07)

FACT: Gov. Huckabee Signed The Highway Improvement Gas Tax Into Law WITHOUT Voter Approval:

The Club For Growth Has Called Huckabee Out For His Misleading Statements On The Gas Tax. "From the start of Huckabee's campaign -- literally -- the Club has been hounding the former Arkansas governor for what its leaders believe is his support of big government and higher taxes. Their latest gambit is a web video that seeks to paint Huckabee as flatly dishonest when it comes to his past statements about supporting an increase in the gas tax in Arkansas." (Chris Cillizza, "Club Vs. Huck," The Washington Post, 11/8/07;

At First, Huckabee Supported Linking A Gas Tax Hike To A Proposed Bond Issue:

Huckabee Supported "Road Improvement" Through Bonds And Diesel Tax Increase. "Last month, a highway panel appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee proposed a road-improvement plan funded primarily by bonds. The only new revenue would come from a 3-cent increase in the state's tax on diesel fuel. Proponents of the plan believe it's fair to heap more taxes on the trucking industry, given that big trucks cause more wear and tear than cars." (Miguel Casas, "Trucking; Proposed Tax Increase Fuels Industry Concern," The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 11/1/98)

Huckabee Said The Diesel Tax Would Be Enacted Only If The Bond Proposal Was Passed By The Voters. "The governor's proposed $575 million bond issue and the $40 million rural-road plan both would be put to voters at a special election. Huckabee's plan also has a 3-cent-a-gallon diesel tax increase that would be collected only if the bond issue passed." (James Jefferson, "Panel Oks Rural Road Compromise, House To Vote This Week," The Associated Press, 2/22/99)

But, Huckabee Later Compromised With Democrats And De-Linked The Gas Tax From The Bond:

Huckabee Compromised With The Democrats And Agreed To A Diesel And Gasoline Tax Increase Even If His Bond Proposal Was Voted Down By The People. "But Huckabee on Thursday endorsed legislation that would impose a 3-cent tax increase on both diesel and gasoline - regardless of how the Governor's bond program fares." (David A. Lieb, "Dozen Republicans Split From Huckabee, Propose Alternative Highway Plan," The Associated Press, 2/26/99)

Huckabee's Compromise Plan Included "A Gasoline Tax Increase That Would Not Be Referred To Voters." "Gov. Mike Huckabee gave his blessing Thursday to an overhaul of his proposals for interstate repairs by including a gasoline tax increase that would not be referred to voters." (Noel E. Oman, "Huckabee Fits," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2/26/99)

The Compromise Legislation Would Increase Both Diesel And Gas Taxes. "The compromise, melded into House Bill 1548, would provide for raised the state tax on diesel fuel 3 cents per gallon and the tax on gasoline 3 cents. Both now are 18.6 cents. Each increase would be phased in over three years, a penny a year." (Noel E. Oman, "Huckabee Fits," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2/26/99)

In April 1999, Huckabee Signed Legislation Increasing Gas And Diesel Taxes WITHOUT ANY VOTER APPROVAL:

"The Fuel Taxes Were Signed Into Law By Huckabee And Do Not Have To Go A Statewide Vote." "The bond issue is part of a highway package backed by Gov. Mike Huckabee that also includes a 4-cent diesel tax, to be phased in over two years, tax and 3-cent gas tax, to be phased in over three years. The fuel taxes were signed into law by Huckabee and do not have to go a statewide vote." ("Capitol Briefs," The Associated Press, 4/6/99)

The Vote On The Bond Proposal Was Not Tied To The Diesel And Fuel Taxes. "Although a tax increase is in the bond plan, voter approval of the bonds did not raise or lower any tax. Huckabee and the Legislature had already done that during the 1999 legislative session. They raised the diesel fuel tax 4 cents per gallon, earmarking part of that revenue to finance the bonds." (Ray Pierce And Elizabeth Caldwell, "Road Bond Issue Scores Big Win With Arkansans," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 6/16/99)

Huckabee Signed Legislation Increasing Diesel And Fuel Taxes, While Separately Issuing $575 Million Worth Of Bonds Depending Upon Voters Approval. "Gov. Mike Huckabee signed into law Thursday legislation to raise fuel taxes by $60 million a year and issue bonds worth $575 million to pay for Arkansas' first major road program since 1991. Diesel taxes go up immediately and the gasoline tax increase takes effect July 1, two weeks after voters decide whether to approve the bond issue intended to speed up repairs on the poorest stretches of interstates across the state." (James Jefferson, "Governor Signs Bills Raising Taxes, Bonds For Highway Program," The Associated Press, 4/1/99)

- The People Would Have The Chance To Vote On JUST The Bond Proposal In June Of 1999. "Huckabee also set a June 15 special election for voters to decide whether to approve the bond issue, which is intended to speed up repairs on the poorest stretches of interstates across the state." (James Jefferson, "Governor Signs Bills Raising Taxes, Bonds For Highway Program," The Associated Press, 4/2/99)

In June 1999, Arkansans Voted On The Bond Proposal For Highways, NOT A Gas Tax:

The Vote On The Bond Proposal Would Not Impact The Tax Increases. " Voting on the bond issue would not change state tax rates. The legislature raised fuel taxes this year - 4 cents a gallon on diesel over two years, 3 cents a gallon on gasoline over three years - to hasten repairs on secondary highways and local roads." (James Jefferson, "Voters Back Huckabee's Road Plan," The Commercial Appeal, 6/16/99)

The Bond Proposal (WITH NO GAS TAX) Was Passed 80% To 20%. "Gov. Mike Huckabee's $575 million bond program to reconstruct the worst stretches of Arkansas interstates over a five-year period appeared headed for an easy victory, 80 percent to 20 percent, becoming the first road bond issue approved since 1949." (James Jefferson, "Voters Back Huckabee's Road Plan," The Commercial Appeal, 6/16/99)

In Fact, Huckabee's Own Gubernatorial Website Contradicts The Story He's Telling Now:

In 2005, Huckabee's Website Said That The People Did Not Vote For The 1999 Fuel Tax. " The people did not vote on any of the taxes dedicated to repay these bonds. Federal gas and diesel taxes are passed and implemented by Congress, and the state funds to repay these bonds are coming from the diesel tax increase passed and implemented by the state legislature in 1999." (Gov. Mike Huckabee, "Setting The Record Straight," Press Release, 11/30/05, Accessed 11/13/07)

MYTH: Gov. Huckabee Said "We Did Not Reduce" Sentences For Meth:

Gov. Huckabee Claimed He Did Not Reduce Sentences For Meth Manufacturers. GOV. HUCKABEE: "He said that I reduced methamphetamine sentences in Arkansas. Truth is I signed a bill in 1999 that doubled those sentences. We did not reduce them." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 12/30/07)

FACT: Gov. Huckabee Signed A Bill Reducing Mandatory Minimums For Meth Manufacturers:

Huckabee Supported A Measure To Reduce Mandatory Minimums For Methamphetamine Makers. "Methamphetamine makers could shorten their mandatory time in prison with good behavior under legislation approved Tuesday by the Arkansas House. The bill, by Sen. Jim Luker, D-Wynne, is part of a legislative package intended to help control the state's burgeoning prison population and is supported by state prison officials, the state prosecutors' association and Gov. Mike Huckabee." (Melissa Nelson, "Arkansas House Approves Bill To Reduce Mandatory Prison Time Of Meth Offenders," The Associated Press, 3/8/05)

SB 387 Lowered Mandatory Minimums For Meth Manufacturers From 70 Percent Of A Sentence To Only 50 Percent Of A Sentence. "Senate Bill 387 repeals a 1997 law requiring those convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine, among other crimes, to serve at least 70 percent of their sentence. Approved by a unanimous vote in the Senate and by a 56-32 vote in the House, SB 387 allows those inmates to serve half of their sentence if they've earned 'good time' for good behavior." (Arkansas House Of Representatives, "Prison Crowding And Saving Teachers' Insurance Plans Gain House Approval," Press Release,, 3/11/05)

- March 21, 2005: Huckabee Signed SB 387 Into Law. "Also Monday, Gov. Mike Huckabee signed into law legislation allowing imprisoned methamphetamine abusers serving time under the state's mandatory 70-percent rule to shorten their sentences with good behavior." (Melissa Nelson, "Senate OKs Higher Ed Funding Formulas," The Associated Press, 3/21/05)

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "Call It The Relief Bill For Meth Manufacturers." (Editorial, "A Perk For Drug Dealers," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/16/05)

The Bill Was Criticized Because It Reduced Sentencing For Meth Manufacturers Sentences, Not Meth Users. "This was a bad idea two years ago when the Department of Correction pressured the Ledge to back away from the 70 percent rule. It still is. Because the rule isn't aimed at the poor souls who wind up in jail only because they've used meth and got caught. The prisoners who would benefit by the Ledge's favor are the dealers-the source of the plague, the ones who cook up the drug and spread it around. These are the folks who prey on addicts lower down the drug chain. These are the manufacturers and merchants of so much misery in Arkansas." (Editorial, "A Perk For Drug Dealers," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/16/05)

Huckabee Admitted He Supported Weakening Penalties For Criminals Caught Running Meth Labs. STEPHANOPOULOS: "I understand not the drug users, but these were drug dealers here." HUCKABEE: "Well, and we didn't make this -- what you have to understand is that the significant difference was some of the penalties for these people could be up to life, and they still had that potential if they continued to manufacture drugs, but it was an adjustment in what had been an overreaching law that had previously passed." (ABC's "This Week," 12/2/07)

MYTH: Gov. Huckabee Said He Did Not Support Special Breaks For Illegals:

Gov. Huckabee Claimed He Did Not Support Special Tuition Breaks For Illegals. GOV. HUCKABEE: "He said that I supported special breaks for illegal aliens. That's not true, Tim. We supported simply giving children, who had earned a scholarship the same, it never happened, didn't make the legislature." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 12/30/07)

FACT: Gov. Huckabee Supported A Bill Granting In-State Tuition Breaks To Illegals:

Gov. Huckabee Proposed Extending Taxpayer-Funded College Scholarships To Illegal Aliens. "Gov. Mike Huckabee is proposing extending eligibility for state-funded college scholarships to illegal aliens who graduate from Arkansas high schools - an idea that several legislators predicted will go nowhere" (Laura Kellams, "Huckabee Plan Would Aid Illegal Aliens," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/12/05)

- At Gov. Huckabee's Request, Arkansas Legislator Joyce Elliott Added His Scholarship Proposal To Her Bill Extending In-State Tuition To Illegal Immigrants. "In 2005, Huckabee tried to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for scholarships and in-state college tuition. Joyce Elliott, the former state representative who sponsored the scholarship measure, said she originally had wanted to offer just in-state tuition, but Huckabee's office asked her to add the scholarship provision. 'The notion I got from him is that he believed it was the right thing to do,' said Elliott, a Democrat from Little Rock." (Andrew DeMillo, "Huckabee Adopts New Tone On Immigration," The Associated Press, 12/27/07)

Yet The Scholarship Portion Was Stripped From The Bill:

The Scholarship Portion Of The Bill Was Stripped From The Bill. "The bill began as one touted by Gov. Mike Huckabee to allow undocumented Arkansans to qualify for state-sponsored academic scholarships the same way as legal residents. The governor, who drew criticism from some quarters for backing the proposal, said children who have been good students deserve the same opportunities, regardless of their parents' standing. Hard-liners, led by state Sen. Jim Holt, R-Springdale, said 'illegal aliens,' as they prefer, have no rights because they're lawbreakers. It may not be fair to single Holt out because he had plenty of company. When House Bill 1525 stalled in a Senate committee, the scholarship portion of the bill was stripped out, sending the measure to the Senate floor, where it failed twice, the final time by only two votes." (Dennis Byrd, "Federal Judge: Illegal Immigrants Qualify For Tuition Breaks," Arkansas News , 7/10/05)

And The Bill That Was Actually Voted On Only Included In-State Tuition Breaks For Illegals:

- H.B. 1525, "Access To Postsecondary Education Act Of 2005":

The Bill Gov. Huckabee Actually Pushed Granted ONLY In-State Tuition Breaks For Illegals:

Gov. Huckabee Fought To Pass The Stripped Bill Which Granted ONLY In-State Tuition Breaks For Illegals. "Other than the highway plan, the only bill in the governor's 21-bill legislative package that failed to win legislative approval was a proposal to make the children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges. After passing the House relatively early in the session, the bill faltered in the Senate where it was amended to remove the scholarship provision but fell just short of passage Tuesday and Wednesday. Huckabee said his office worked throughout the day Wednesday for the two Senate votes needed to pass the bill. 'I don't understand the opposition to it, I just honestly don't,' Huckabee said. 'It hurts me on a personal as well as a policy level to think that we are still debating issues that I kind of hoped we had put aside in the 1960s, maybe at the latest the 70s, and yet I understand people have deep passions about things usually they don't fully understand.'" (Melissa Nelson, "Governor Touts Successful End To Legislative Session," The Associated Press, 4/13/05)

The Washington Post Called Out Huckabee's Misleading Statements. "On Fox News Wednesday, he was asked about a bill he supported as governor that would have granted tuition breaks to the children of illegal immigrants. He suggested that he had only wanted to give such children access to scholarships. 'What I supported was the idea that if a student had been in our Arkansas high schools and had done academically well to be able to compete for an academic challenged scholarship which was meritorious then that student should be able to have the same opportunity as anyone else,' Huckabee said. In fact, the initial bill he supported did have a scholarship provision. But that provision was later stripped out, and was not included in the legislation that Huckabee continued to push. The bill read: 'Any tuition rate that is granted to residents of Arkansas shall be granted on the same terms to all persons, regardless of immigration status, who have attended a secondary educational institution in Arkansas for at least three (3) years and who have either graduated from an Arkansas high school or received a general education diploma in the state.'" (Michael D. Shear, "Rising in Iowa Polls, Huckabee Now In Crosshairs," The Washington Post,, Posted 11/15/07)

MYTH: Gov. Huckabee Does Not Agree With Reports Of His Budgets In Arkansas

Gov. Huckabee Claimed That Figures About His Spending As Governor Were "Ridiculous." GOV. HUCKABEE: "He made allegations that our increased spending by ridiculous amounts..." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 12/30/07)

FACT: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette Reported That Spending More Than Doubled Under Gov. Huckabee:

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Under Huckabee, State Spending More Than Doubled From $6.6 Billion To $16.1 Billion. "During Huckabee's 10 years as governor, state spending more than doubled, from $6.6 billion to $16.1 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. Higher education and public schools got big increases, as did social services." (Daniel Nasaw, "Home Turf Not Rock Solid For Huckabee," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/4/07)

- Former Arkansas Legislator Jake Files: "Jake Files, a former Republican Arkansas legislator, said that during Huckabee's tenure, government spending more than doubled: From 1996 to 2006, spending increased from $6.6 billion to $16.1 billion, he said. Files hasn't endorsed anyone for president." (Lisa Rossi, "Arkansans Criticize Huckabee's Budgets," The Des Moines Register, 12/15/07)

Mitt Romney, Romney Campaign Press Release - Research Briefing: Gov. Mike Huckabee "Meet The Press" Fact Check Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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