From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
One of the most important elections in Arkansas this year will not be for a particular candidate, but for a ballot issue.
Issue One is a proposal referred by the legislature, to permanently extend the half-cent sales tax that is dedicated to highway construction and repairs.
Arkansas voters originally approved the half-cent for highways in 2012, by the overwhelming margin of 58 to 42 percent.
It went into effect in 2013, and unless voters approve Issue One it’s scheduled to expire in 2023.
It already has the support of a broad and diverse coalition of business groups and elected officials. The trucking industry is behind it, as are economic development officials who promote Arkansas as a good place to invest.
Local elected officials support Issue One because it preserves the traditional division of highway revenue. The state Transportation Department will receive 70 percent of revenue, while cities and counties will each share 15 percent.
That amounts to about $205 million a year for the state and $43 million a year for cities and $43 million for counties.
That revenue would support 3,600 jobs every year, and help boost the state economy by about $8.2 billion over the next 10 years.
More importantly, it will make our highways safer, and you can’t put a price tag on that.
Between now and November, you’ll hear a lot of campaign ads. Keep in mind that a vote for Issue One is a vote for safe roads, smoother highways, and more jobs.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.