A group supporting the permanent extension of a half-cent sales tax for road improvements launched its first TV and radio ads on Tuesday (Sept. 8).
Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1 is the ballot question committee advocating for a current half-cent sales tax for highway construction and repairs to be made permanent when it expires in 2022. The tax referendum, which will be on the November 3rd ballot, is part of a highway plan expected to raise $300 million annually and is supported by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a majority of state legislators, and many significant business interests.
If voters approve to extend the tax permanently, 76% of the money will go to system preservation, and 24% would be for capital and congestion relief. The program would create about 3,900 jobs annually and generate $8 billion in economic activity, according to Gov. Hutchinson.
The ad, titled “Our Roads,” touts the fact that roads have been pivotal during the COVID-19 pandemic for transporting goods, keeping key businesses open, and providing recreational outlets for quarantined residents. A spokesperson for the group said the new ad is part of a series of ads that will run through Election Day.
“The Vote for Issue 1 campaign is excited to release our first TV and radio ad that educates voters on why it’s important to invest in our roads,” said Shannon Newton, Issue 1 campaign chair and president of the Arkansas Trucking Association. “COVID-19 showed us all that Arkansas is a state made of essential businesses. Without good roads, Arkansans will suffer, and those businesses won’t have access to every corner of our state to deliver their goods and services in times of need.”
“When we shut down, our streets kept moving,” the ad declares. “While we stayed in, our roads gave us a breath of fresh air — and when we needed supplies, our highways delivered. Now, more than ever, Arkansans depend on our roads.”
Issue 1 supporters had cash-on-hand of $1,653,705 at the end of July and had raised a cumulative $1,847,052, according to documents filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Representatives for the group said they raised $207,500 in the month of August and the group has raised $2,054,551 overall.
Major contributors include Tyson Foods, Nucor Steel, J.B. Hunt, ArcBest, Alice Walton, Jim Walton, and Warren Stephens.
The roads program was one of three legislatively-referred amendment proposals in the 2019 General Assembly. You can watch the ad in the video below.