AR State Highway Commission talks state-wide sales tax increase

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The proposal of a statewide half-cent sales tax increase was one of the topics of discussion at the Arkansas State Highway Commission business meeting held at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.

Arkansas residents will vote on Constitutional Amendment Issue #1 in the general election November 6.

The tax would last for 10 years, and finance the construction that is already in progress on four-lane highways across the state.

Pocahontas Mayor Frank Bigger is in favor of the proposed increase. "We would definitely benefit from the passage of that tax."

Arkansas State Highway Commission Chairman R. Madison Murphy said a vote for the tax would also be a vote for economic development. "It goes specifically to four-lane projects to try to build out a four lane grid in Arkansas, which is what we don't have," he said.

"This can support and/or create 40,000 jobs in our state, and this tax does not grow state government, but it definitely grows private sector jobs in our state, and particularly in our construction industry."

The half-cent increase would not apply to groceries, medicine or gasoline. It's projected to generate $700 million in new turnback revenue designated for local street and road projects.

"The needs we have here are up to 150 million, so if the sales tax passes, obviously Jonesboro is going to get a million dollars a year over those ten years, about 11 million dollars," said Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin.

Mayor Perrin has a plan in place if the tax passes. "What we'll do if it passes I'll ask the Council to bond that money so we can start on those projects, and as that money comes in we can pay the bonds off. So we're not going to wait the 10 years or just do a little bit each year."

Many of the mayors and civic leaders who attended the meeting said they are in support of the proposed tax increase because it has the potential to local economies and connectivity within the state.

"People generally are against any kind of tax. I'd like to think of myself as being a conservative too, but some things you just have to pay for," said Mayor Bigger.

Click here to for information about how much money the tax increase will generate for your city.

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