Bill Would Transfer Some Tax Revenue To Fund Arkansas Highway Maintenance

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — An Arkansas legislator has proposed transferring some of the state's tax revenue to fund highway maintenance.

House Bill 1260 was filed Monday by state Rep. Dan Douglas, R- Bentonville. Under the proposal, a portion of annual sales tax revenue would go toward highway maintenance when the revenue exceeds $2.5 billion. The amount transferred in the first year would be $30 million. It would increase to $60 million in the second year and $90 million in the third year and $120 million in the fourth year.

The bill would also raise the state's wholesale fuel tax and send 70 percent of that revenue to the state highway and transportation fund. That increase would be about 5 cents more per gallon, bringing the total to nearly 27 cents per gallon in fuel tax.

Douglas' bill includes an emergency clause that says the state's highways, roads and bridges are "in dire need of construction, reconstruction and maintenance."

"There's only two ways to get that money, either use money we've already got, which I tried in 2015 with the revenue transfer, it didn't go anywhere," said Douglas. "Or proposed new funding sources such as sales tax or fuel tax or registration fees, we tried a sales tax last session and it didn't go anywhere, so this is kind of a hybrid combination."

"We're not taking away from anybody that's already out there, we're just taking new money as that sales tax revenue reaches 2.5 billion and goes above, then we'll start the revenue transfer," added Douglas.

Rep. Andrew Collins, D-Little Rock, said while he isn't opposed to a new gas tax he cannot support using general revenue funds.

"When you shrink the pie that we have to work with as far as general revenues goes, you are starting a process that is inevitably going to lead to less being left over for education, health all these things we've been talking about and I have to point out that we have not done this in our state in the past," said Collins.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, responding to the bill, told KATV, "While I appreciate Rep. Douglas’ focus on finding a long-term highway funding plan, I cannot support it. Pulling additional money from general revenue is not the answer. We are already devoting $50 million a year from state revenue to the Highway Department. Doing more will only create new problems elsewhere and will negatively impact education, prisons, public safety, and more."

Arkansas House Bill 1260 by on Scribd

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, responding to the bill, told KATV, "While I appreciate Rep. Douglas’ focus on finding a long-term highway funding plan, I cannot support it. Pulling additional money from general revenue is not the answer. We are already devoting $50 million a year from state revenue to the Highway Department. Doing more will only create new problems elsewhere and will negatively impact education, prisons, public safety, and more."

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