Local road money: The rest of the story | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

Local road money: The rest of the story

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 9:46 AM

click to enlarge 1327680651-southern.jpg

SHEFFIELD NELSON: His severance tax petition holds better promise for local roads.
  • SHEFFIELD NELSON: His severance tax petition holds better promise for local roads.
I see that state highway officials had a little show hearing at the legislature yesterday to tout the wonders of putting a sales tax on people's food, groceries, clothing and utilities to finance a highway construction program. The pitch was the money that would be provided additionally to city and county needs.

Reminder of a better idea not mentioned in today's news coverage: The proposal to make the gas severance tax fair would provide money for city and county needs on a permanent basis without taxing the necessities of life and put most of the cost of building roads on out-of-state consumers of the gas forever severed from Arkansas.

You won't find highway officials touting THAT solution for local road funding. It would be permanent, not temporary. It wouldn't hurt the neediest the most. It would extract some payment from an industry destroying roads faster than we can fix them. It makes too much sense for the Arkansas legislature, dominated by gas lobbyists. The people? That's another question.

(Kind of surprised Sheffield Nelson wasn't outside the committee room passing out numbers of the significant city and county aid mandated under the severance tax proposal — the reason the Arkansas Municipal League is working to put the issue on the ballot and the reason it has resisted extortionate arm-twisting by legislators to drop its support for the proposal.)

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