Sales tax, highway bonds unpopular with Arkansas public

Online survey reveals that the public prefers restructuring existing taxes and fees to fund state highway projects

News Arkansas News August 24, 2010
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Restructuring existing taxes and fees and raising the fuel taxes were the most popular options for new road funding sources, according to an unscientific survey by the Arkansas Blue Ribbon Committee on Highway Finance, as reported by Arkansas News. The committee has been meeting for over a year to come up with the $19 billion transportation officials say the state will need over the next 10 years. The committee plans to present its recommendations to the governor and legislature on Dec. 1.

Of the 92 people who completed the survey on the Blue Ribbon Committee’s website, 29% preferred restructuring existing taxes and fees, 20% favored raising fuel taxes, 18% voted for utilizing other user fees and 19% suggested finding other revenue sources.

Only 11% said highway bonds were “the fairest way to pay for highways, roads, streets and bridges,” and 3% preferred the sales tax.

State Sen. John Paul Capps (D-Searcy), chairman of the committee, told Arkansas News that while he isn’t speaking for the sales tax, “sometimes you have to do things you don’t really want to do to accomplish what you think is best.”

Capps said that although the sales tax is regressive, it also brings in large amounts of money for public projects.

The survey also asked participants to name “the most critical areas that need attention.” Voters chose potholes and cracked pavement as the most critical problem, followed by congestion, widening narrow roads and constructing highways that connect to more of the state.

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