Legislators Make Push for Highway Program

MARCH 24, 2005 - Posted at 3:47 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The push for a new state highway program is off and running in the Legislature.

The House Public Transportation Committee today approved a proposed $1.3 billion program to upgrade state highway links from cities of 5,000 or more to interstate routes.

Financing to repay the bonds used to build the roads would come from $149 million that the bill would redirect from sales taxes on new vehicles that now go to general revenues to help pay for education, human services and other state programs.

Voters would have to approve the plan in a special bond election.  Highway officials and others that support the bill say road building needs a progressive revenue not tied to flat fuel taxes.  They say using general revenue would be an investment in safe roads and economic arteries to improve development.

Some lawmakers questioned the wisdom of taking millions of dollars from general revenues without a plan to replace the money.  But the bill passed on a voice vote and now goes to the House floor.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)