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Weekly Address — September 12, 2019

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great land, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

I’m confident that Arkansas voters will approve the highway program on next year’s ballot.

Even so, it’s encouraging to see that supporters of the highway program are leaving nothing to chance, and have already begun work on the campaign.

First of all, the Transportation Department is scheduling a series of town hall meetings around the state. Highway officials will make presentations about projects they intend to prioritize, if voters approve the plan to extend the current half-cent sales tax.

At the town hall meetings, the public will be allowed time at the microphone to voice their opinions about local transportation needs.

If the plan is approved, it will generate an estimated $205 million a year.

It was part of the highway program the legislature adopted earlier this year. The other part of the transportation package is scheduled to take effect in October, when new registration fees for hybrids and electronic vehicles go into effect.

Also, there will be an additional 3 cents in gasoline taxes and an additional 6 cents on a gallon of diesel. According to the Finance and Administration Department, the motor fuels taxes will raise about $84 million for state highways, and $12.6 million a year for county and city road programs.

Here’s an indication of how necessary it is to generate new revenue for highways. The trucking association threw its support behind both components of the plan.

The Farm Bureau, the state Chamber of Commerce and the Poultry Federation will be represented on the campaign committee that will spearhead next year’s effort to extend the half cent sales tax.

I’ve always been a vocal supporter of an expanded highway program, because eastern Arkansas is a transportation crossroads. Our economy relies heavily on bridges and highways.

That’s why I’m encouraged to see so much early support, from business and civic leaders from all over Arkansas.

From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.


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