In our latest magazine edition of Talk Business Quarterly, we asked supporters and opponents of the temporary half-cent sales tax to provide their arguments for and against the road tax program.
The measure will appear on the November ballot as Issue No. 1. It is a legislature-referred ballot measure that will allow voters to decide a 10-year, temporary half-cent sales tax increase for four-lane highway construction and repairs.
Madison Murphy, current chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission and leader of the Move Arkansas Forward campaign, suggests supporting the tax is imperative to improving road construction and jobs for the Arkansas economy.
“Arkansans recently took advantage of an opportunity to support more jobs and improve the Arkansas economy through much-needed highway construction — without raising taxes,” Murphy writes in his support of the road tax.
“Last November, more than 80 percent of Arkansas voters supported the Arkansas Highway Commission as it continues to find ways to work around the state’s flawed funding system. That vote approved allowing the Commission to modernize more than 400 miles of Arkansas interstates with the re-issue of Garvee bonds for a new Interstate Rehabilitation Program. The next step in the statewide improvement program is to continue constructing four-lane highways connecting all parts of the state, plus provide new local turnback revenue to every city and county to repair county roads and fix city streets. To do that, we need to pass Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1 on Nov. 6,” he said.
Murphy argues that the tax will help bridge the gap in current highway funding and create as many as 40,000 jobs.
Teresa Oelke, state director for the Arkansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, argues against the tax hike. She says the tax burden on Arkansans is high enough in this day and age.
“Authorizing even higher taxes so government can spend more money to create jobs is like trying to dig yourself out of a hole by continuing to dig. Arkansas Issue 1’s motto should be ‘dig faster,’” Oelke writes.
“Instead of demanding an ever-larger portion of a family’s paycheck and driving up their cost of everyday life with higher taxes, our leaders must look at every other option first. Arkansas families have led by example. Reducing spending in some areas and prioritizing spending overall is something we have done since the beginning of the economic downturn. State government must focus on being efficient, cut wasteful spending and burdensome red tape, and let Arkansas job-creators and small businesses lead our state to better days. Then those essential responsibilities, like roads and bridges, won’t be paid for with continued economic decline,” she said.
Read their full comments and arguments online at our magazine web site at this link.