Arkansas voters to decide on continuation of road tax
August 27, 2020
Decision day nears in Arkansas and among the issues on the statewide ballot is a question about whether to continue the collection of a sales tax to pay for transportation work.
The Issue 1 question is described by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as “the most important issue on the ballot” this fall.
Voters approved a statewide ballot question in 2012 to add a one-half cent sales tax increase to cover a $1.3 billion bond issue for roads and bridges. In place since 2013, the tax collection has a sunset date of July 1, 2023.
The Arkansas Legislature voted a year ago to include a question on the November 2020 ballot to continue collection of the tax.
The governor is among the leading state officials to support the tax, which raises about $294 million each year. Continuation of the tax is estimated to result in about the same amount of yearly revenue.
If renewed by voters, Issue 1 would continue to direct two-thirds of the revenue to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, or $205 million annually. Cities and counties would again split the rest, or $44 million yearly.
Tax money would continue to be used to help address repairs and construction of state highways and bridges, county roads, and city streets and bridges.
Advocates say the extension would provide $8.2 billion for economic activity over the next decade.
“We all benefit from good roads,” Hutchinson said in previous remarks. “The half-cent sales tax allows everyone to easily share in the maintenance of our transportation infrastructure.”
Approval of the extension would amend the state’s constitution to make the tax permanent.