The right way to fund Arkansas highways | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 20, 2015

The right way to fund Arkansas highways

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 9:52 AM

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Gotta love the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. They never quit plugging for equitable ways to provide sufficient public services for all Arkansans, not just the lucky.

Latest example: A report on a better way to fund highway construction in Arkansas. Key opening points:

* Agreed. More money is needed, maybe $400 million more per year.

* Gov. Asa Hutchinson's demand that any highway plan be "revenue neutral" is treacherous because it "will pay for highways by cheating us all out things like quality pre-K, social workers for abused and neglected kids, and textbooks for students."

* "Modernizing" the gas tax is a responsible way to move forward that has been adopted in other states. An earned income tax credit should accompany this so poor people (until now left out of Hutchinson tax cutting) can keep more of what they earn.

Among the ideas: Earmark a portion of state surpluses for highways.

Modernization?

This is the big ticket. Raise the fuel tax by 15 cents a gallon (which would cost the average family roughly $80 a year) and index it to both inflation and rising fuel efficiency. Arkansas is not only NOT indexed, the rate hasn't changed since 2001. Costs have gone up since then you can be sure (even if your household income has not). This change could be assessed at the pump or wholesale level. We could consider a vehicle miles traveled tax based on miles driven. (One way to pay for those cost-inefficient freeways that the state highway department keeps widening to distant cities.)

This is all too sensible to get serious consideration.

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