LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The cost of taking care of Arkansas' 16,000 mile road system has surpassed what the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department can afford.
That's why Representative Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville) is re-filing two bills that failed before the House earlier this week. After reworking some language, the new bills would give the voters a choice to approve bonds that would lead to applying a 6.5 percent state sales tax on the wholesale price of gasoline and diesel. That means voters would have to agree to pay roughly 10 cents more per gallon.
Representative Douglas said this vote gives the ultimate choice to the people. They'll decide whether or not they want to fund maintenance to the road system. He is confident the people will choose to take care of their roads. But, he said no matter what happens, something eventually has to be done. The state doesn't have the money to maintain the highway system and that could lead to potholes and other serious issues.
He said while he understands no one wants to pay more money, it likely wouldn’t sting as bad as some might think. That’s because fuel efficiencies have improved and many people are paying less taxes for road maintenance than they used to.
Governor Hutchinson has expressed support for this type of legislation since it gives the choice to voters. If the bills pass, voters would vote on the bond and tax increase on the 2018 general election ballot.