Governor signs largest highway funding bill in history

Governor signs largest highway funding bill in history

LITTLE ROCK, AR (AP/KAIT) -Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a $95 million highway funding bill into law.

According to the Associated Press, this new legislation will raise fuel taxes for the first time in 20 years, setting up an election year fight over another part of the plan that will go before voters next year.

“This is historic,” Governor Hutchinson said. “It’s a historic highway funding bill both in terms of its breadth, in terms of its size, in terms of what it will accomplish for the people of this state. It is the largest highway plan in the state’s history.”

Member of Arkansas State Highway Commission Alec Farmer said this is really going to help Northeast Arkansas.

Largest highway funding plan signed in the state's history
Largest highway funding plan signed in the state's history ((Source: KAIT-TV))
Governor signs largest highway funding bill in history
“In Northeast Arkansas especially, being over in the Delta we have an enormous amount of bridges in our area,” Farmer said. “A lot of them are posted for lower-weights, some of them are obsolete in width. So, this money that will be beginning to flow this year will go directly to those bridges more quickly than we had planned in the past.”

President Pro Tempore, Arkansas Senator Jim Hendren said this is a huge step forward.

“To get 27 votes for a bill that includes a $95 million-dollar additional fees in taxes in a republican legislature is an incredible lift,” Senator Hendren said. “I am not sure anybody else could have done it as well as Sen. Rice did as same as Sen. Eads on his work on the constitutional amendment. I am proud of the work we’ve done.”

Governor Hutchinson also signed a new wholesale tax on fuel.

This tax will raise gas prices by 3 cents a gallon and diesel by 6 cents.

It will also access at least $35 million in expected revenue from casinos and imposes an additional registration fee on electric and hybrid vehicles.

The highway plan also calls for voters to decide whether or not to permanently extend a half-cent sales tax for roads.

That vote will take place next year.

Copyright 2019 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.