Gov. Mike Beebe (D) will announce plans for a special election on November 8, 2011 to renew an interstate highway bond program that has been in use for more than a decade.
In an e-mail to committee members, the chairs of the House and Senate Transportation committees told members that the Governor will host a press conference on Monday, Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. to announce the plans. The Governor’s office confirms that a press conference on the subject is slated for Monday at 11 a.m.
The special election will ask voters to approve the issuance of GARVEE Bonds for a 2011 Interstate Rehabilitation Program. GARVEE stands for "Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle. " They have been used by the state to fund interstate improvements through bonds that are paid for by future federal highway dollars.
A previous legislature-approved 4-cent tax diesel fuel tax also has been used to retire the bond debt, but voters will only be asked to approve the bond issuance.
The GARVEE bond program would authorize a new $575 million in bonds that could be leveraged for nearly $1 billion in road improvements, supporters say. A Beebe spokesman said in early July that the Governor was considering an election on the GARVEE bond issue, but did not have a date in mind at the time.
Beebe decided against calling a special election earlier this year for a referred measure that would have asked voters to approve a 5-cent diesel fuel tax increase for road construction and maintenance after public polling showed the measure was unpopular.
A proposed constitutional amendment for a half-cent sales tax increase for a separate state highway improvement program will be on the November 2012 general election ballot. Special elections cost the state of Arkansas an estimated $750,000 to $1 million.
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