JOHNSTON -- Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Friday that the bridge collapse in Minneapolis exposes long-festering problems with infrastructure, the kind of problems he helped remedy as governor of Arkansas.
"We have a crumbling infrastructure," Huckabee said during the taping of the Iowa Public Television program "Iowa Press."
As governor, he campaigned for a referendum that raised fuel taxes to pay for statewide road repairs. The plan passed with 80 percent support. Huckabee said the plan was successful because voters knew exactly how the money would be spent. "The people of Arkansas had a choice: You want better roads? Here's how we're going to pay for them," he said.
Looking at nationwide infrastructure needs, he said it's premature to assume that a tax increase is necessary. "I think the answer some people always have is raising taxes," Huckabee said. "Sometimes it's re-allocating money. Sometimes it's making sure we have user fees in place so that the people that use things the most will pay for them."
His comment about the Arkansas referendum was made the same week that a fiscally conservative think tank, the Club for Growth, began running ads in Iowa critical of Huckabee's record on tax issues. The ad cites the gasoline tax increase as an example.
Huckabee said there is a big difference between a voter-approved tax increase and one signed by a governor without direct voter input.
Iowa's largest anti-tax group, Iowans for Tax Relief, agrees with this distinction. The group has long pushed for a law that would require voter approval for tax increases.
Huckabee dismissed the Club for Growth ad. He said he is proud of his record on taxes, which includes 94 tax cuts.
Dan Gearino can be reached at 515-243-0138 and email@example.com.