Arkansas voters approve permanent sales tax for road and bridge projects

Nov. 4, 2020

Ballot measure ensures permanent half-cent sales tax to fund surface transportation work in the state

Voters in Arkansas yesterday passed a ballot measure that would ensure a permanent half-cent sales tax to fund road and bridge projects in the state.

According to KATV-TV, results reported this morning for the state's Issue 1 ballot measure showed 55% of voters in favor of the measure against just about 45% against it.

The state reportedly has an existing half-cent sales tax in place for surface transportation projects, which passed in 2012 and is set to expire in 2023. The permanent sales tax is expected to generate approximately $290 million annually for state road and bridge projects—with around $205 million that would go to the Arkansas DOT (ARDOT) and about $85 million for cities and counties.

“The passage of Issue 1 is truly a victory for the State of Arkansas," ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor said in a statement. "The continued investment and progress in our roads will increase safety and mobility and provide economic opportunities for generations to come. This success is due to a strong collaboration by all stakeholders."

Tudor said the department is committed to delivering the Renew Arkansas Highways program as promised and will do so "efficiently and effectively."

Opponents of the measure reportedly objected to making the tax a permanent part of the state's constitution. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told KATV-TV in September that if the ballot measure failed, the state would lose jobs.

"With this passage of Issue 1, we will move ahead with the road and bridge work we promised to do," Arkansas Highway Commission Chairman Robert S. Moore Jr. said in a statement. "The Arkansas Highway Commission and ARDOT look forward with anticipation to the future where we have the resources to provide Arkansans with safe, smart, and efficient roads and bridges.”