Huckabee: consolidate or lose state funds

(June 18, 2004) — (Rogers-AP) -- Governor Mike Huckabee warned top county officials yesterday that local governments will lose state aid if lawmakers don't accept more complete school consolidation and the governor's state reorganization. Huckabee told the County Judges Association of Arkansas that the state must become more efficient, and the best way to do that is for government to get smaller. He also said that the new state law mandating that education spending take priority could lead to revenue shortfalls in other areas. He said the Legislature didn't go far enough with consolidation and there need to be even fewer school districts for the state to see serious savings. Huckabee pushed for consolidating all districts with fewer than 1,500 students but the Legislature ended up reducing that number to 350 students and some smaller communities have challenged that plan too.