Tuition credit program OK’d for aspiring truckers in Arkansas

| 4/9/2007
Gov. Mike Beebe has signed a bill into law in Arkansas that will reimburse students for training in the trucking industry.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jack Critcher, D-Batesville, said he offered the bill because something needed to be done to help fill the projected 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 jobs, Critcher 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 is slated to come via the state’s general fund.

Critcher said the new law, previously SB703, is intended to help residents get jobs and will 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 stays on the job for that year, Critcher recently 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.”

There are 11 schools in the state where prospective truckers can attend and be eligible for the tax credits. People who don’t live up to the standards set up in the bill would be responsible for reimbursing the state for their tuition.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Staff writer Reed Black contributed to this report.