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You are here: Home News In Brief Governor Signs Arkansas Highway Plan into Law

 

Arkansas Govenor Asa Hutchinson

The Legislature's special session on highways came when Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a highway funding plan into law that will raise nearly $50 million for the state's highways in the coming year and qualify the state to receive an additional $200 million annually in federal matching highway funds.

The plan utilizes $40 million from Arkansas's surplus, $1.5 million investment returns and ends a requirement that $8.4 million from a half-cent sales tax for roads go toward a fund for constitutional officers.

After this year, $20 million in investment earnings and a quarter of the state's surplus will be designated for roads. Money raised by road users will be reserved for infrastructure as an annual $4 million in diesel tax revenue will no longer be directed to general revenue starting July 1, 2017.

Though democrats and a handful of republicans criticized the plan for being short-term and relying upon surplus funds that cannot be guaranteed each year, there was no traction for an alternative plan to raise fuel taxes. Hutchinson and the majority-GOP were opposed to any tax increase without an equal tax cut somewhere else.

Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram (D-West Memphis) criticized the plan, "I think it creates a lot of problems potentially for the budget down the road, and I think a lot of people – certainly the transportation committee – were ready to address the problem on a long-term basis instead of this one-year-at-a-time deal where you can’t make any plans. It’s not a good way to conduct business."

While signing, the Gov. commented, “I actually believe that … we’ve got a pretty good plan for the next five years here."

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You are here: Home News In Brief Governor Signs Arkansas Highway Plan into Law