Good day for highway tax increases | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good day for highway tax increases

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Only 25 members of the House objected today to passage of Rep. Jonathan Barnett's proposed constitutional amendment to raise the sales tax to build freeways. Oh, sorry — to ask voters to raise the sales tax to build freeways after they've been worked over with some pie-in-the-sky TV advertising by the highway construction lobby. Hope Barnett won't use the Highway Department plane that he used so often as highway commissioner to fly around the state for the press conferences supporting the miraculous economic boom that will follow these highways. Wouldn't be prudent.

UPDATE: The diesel tax increase came back up in the Senate Transportation Committee today. After addition of amendments proposed by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, it was sent back to the Senate floor by the majority-Republican committee, according to KUAR. (The amendments allow only one vote and exempt farm-used diesel.) Jason Tolbert said it was approved on a voice vote with a motion by Sen. Fireball Holland, one of the five Republicans on the eight-person committee. Five votes were necessary for passage. Any Republican who blames a future vote for a 5-cent increase in the diesel tax on Democrats will be shameless. (By Jason Tolbert's account, the votes FOR the tax had to be Missy Irvin and Bill Sample.)

The Koch-paid lobbyists who were keening about this committee's first passage of the measure are curiously AWOL today.

UPDATE: The Senate wasted little time in passing the bill 18-12. Sorry, Sen. Holland. Voting against it on the floor doesn't give you a pass. You could have killed it. You let it live. Same to you Sens. Irvin, Samples, Hutchinson and Files. In fact, same to ALL 15 Republicans, all "nays" or "present (same as no)" on the bill. You had the votes to kill it. You didn't. The House Transportation Committee met after adjourment to sign off on the Senate amendments.

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