Arkansas bill would offer tuition credit for aspiring truckers

| 3/5/2007

A leading state lawmaker in Arkansas wants to reimburse students for training in the trucking industry.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jack Critcher, D-Batesville, said something needs to be done to help fill the estimated 1,000 trucking jobs available today in Arkansas. He cited a U.S. Department of Labor study that said professional truck drivers will be the state's top job growth occupation through 2014, accounting for nearly 12,000 new jobs.

To help fill those jobs, Critcher has offered a two year, $9 million appropriation bill to institute a tuition forgiveness program for Arkansas residents who want to work in the trucking, transportation and logistics fields. The money would come via the state's general fund.

Critcher said his bill is intended to help residents get jobs and cost less than incentives to lure jobs to the state.

"What this would do is offer up to a $3,500 tuition credit for individuals to become truckers if they agree to live in the state for one year and work for some firm in the state," Critcher told "Land Line Now" on XM Satellite Radio. "This program will pay for itself in two years and it will generate about $90 million in wages."

The bill - SB703 - is in the Joint Budget Committee.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

 Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.