LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Highway Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to seek to place a proposal to boost highway funding on the November 2018 ballot.
The panel’s decision came after this year’s legislative session failed to produce any approved legislation on highway funding. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he hopes government leaders and the business community will consider advancing a proposed initiated act on the issue.
The commission did not decide on a specific funding plan to ask voters to approve or an amount to seek. It plans to consider those issues over the coming months.
The panel discussed various options for boosting highway funding, including raising fuel taxes and transferring existing revenue from taxes paid by road users to highways.
Kelly Robbins, executive vice president of the Arkansas chapter of Associated General Contractors, said after the meeting that funding Arkansas’ highway needs would benefit not just the contractors his organization represents but all Arkansans by promoting “economic development, safer roadways and more efficient roadways to get us to our places of commerce and schools and churches and everywhere else.”
Robbins said he believes Arkansans could support a tax increase for highways, noting that they approved a half-cent sales tax increase for highway construction in 2012.
“Arkansas voters have stepped up to the plate before, and we’re looking forward to being part of the effort to do that again,” he said.